More than a century after sales of the book Ministry of Healing by Seventh-day Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White helped fund the original Washington Adventist Sanitarium, the book itself was symbolically installed at the heart of Adventist HealthCare’s newest facility in the region.
On December 2, executives of the Adventist health network and representatives of the Ellen G. White Estate, joined with community leaders, caregivers, and partners for a blessing ceremony just ahead of the foundation pouring for the new Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH) in the White Oak area of Maryland, which is due to open in 2019.
“We gather to reflect and ask continued blessing for the construction of the new hospital — an expansion of our more than 100-year health ministry to the community,” said Terry Forde, president and CEO, Adventist HealthCare. “We are blessed to carry forth our founder’s vision — with both a new hospital on this land and continued health and wellness offerings in Takoma Park.”
“The history of what is now Washington Adventist Hospital goes back to 1903”
Nearly one year after gaining approval to build the new hospital, the foundation pouring, set to begin December 12, marks the beginning of the construction of the hospital building, following months of work preparing the land and planning the design of clinical spaces.
“As the foundation for this building is laid, we want to dedicate this moment to you and ask that you bless this foundation so that this building can be a place where your presence is felt and your care is experienced,” said Ann Roda, vice president of Mission Integration and Spiritual Care, Adventist HealthCare, who led guests in a prayer.
Scripture readings and prayers to bless the construction site and its crew were led by chaplain Biaka Chhangte; Dwain Esmond and Tim Poirier of the Ellen G. White Estate; John Sackett, executive vice president & chief operating officer of Adventist HealthCare and president of Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center; and Rob Jepson, a WAH vice president. Erik Wangsness, president of Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital, opened the ceremonies.
Geoff Morgan, vice president of expanded access at WAH, presented four items to be embedded into a concrete wall of the hospital to signify Adventist HealthCare’s legacy, including:
According to The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, the history of what is now Washington Adventist Hospital “goes back to 1903, when a group of leaders of the General Conference went to Washington from Battle Creek, Michigan, in search of a new location for denominational headquarters, a publishing house, a sanitarium, and a college. Their earlier survey of the New York City area had yielded nothing suitable, and letters from Ellen White had suggested that Washington, D.C., be considered.”
The team found a 50-acre (20 hectare) property in Takoma Park, Maryland, just one mile from the District of Columbia line. Adventists purchased the property for $6,000 (approximately $154,783.55 in today’s dollars), which was one-tenth of the amount spent on the property by a previous physician/developer whose own hospital plans fell through.
According to the Encyclopedia, a “general appeal” for funds was made to Seventh-day Adventists, with $50,000 of that money designated for the Sanitarium. Ellen White, the history records, “contributed the proceeds from the sale in the eastern area of the United States of her book The Ministry of Healing” to the effort.
Within two months of its June 13, 1907 opening, the Washington Sanitarium’s patient income “was more than meeting current expenses,” the Encyclopedia noted. The WAH campus expanded over the years, including a major $12.5 million construction project begun in 1970 that added hundreds of patient beds and 43 beds for a comprehensive community mental health unit. The original sanitarium building was removed in 1982 due to fire code concerns, the Encyclopedia entry recounted.
The new WAH campus in White Oak will offer 170 acute-care beds and a medical campus. As reported in Adventist Review in 2015, the Takoma Park campus will retain several services, “including a 39-bed psychiatric unit, 40 inpatient behavioral health beds, and an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Some of the vacated [WAH] space is expected to be leased to [the adjacent] Washington Adventist University.”
— with reporting from Washington Adventist Hospital Public Relations/Marketing