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French Hospital's History

The Golden Years

The 1950's were referred to by many San Luis Obispo County health care practitioners as "The Golden Years." During this decade, the County grew to a population of over 50,000 and the need for specialist physicians arose.

One such specialist was Dr. Edison French. After he served with the Navy Medical Corps, Dr. French settled in San Luis Obispo. In 1946 French purchased the San Luis Sanitarium on Marsh Street.

Dr. French renamed the sanitarium "French Hospital." There he began to practice state-of-the art medicine. He claimed to be the first surgeon in San Luis Obispo to use intravenous anesthesia, the first to perform a lung resection, and the first to do a collapsed lung therapy. He was also the first specialist to actively encourage other specialists to settle in the area.

Recruiting Doctors

One of Dr. French's recruits was Dr. Lou Tedone, a man who is beloved in the community and who likely brought thousands of little San Luis Obispo babies into the world.

In addition to Dr. Tedone, other board-certified specialists included:

  • Ernie Werbel, General Surgery and Trauma
  • Al Gazin, Radiologist
  • Tibor Beresky, Ophthalmology
  • Tony Keese, Orthopedic Surgery
  • Tom McKellar, Pathology
  • Gene Petrick, Anesthesiology
  • Bramwell Anthony, OB/Gyn
  • Bernie Tannenbaum, Psychiatry.
New French Hospital

In 1972, Dr. Edison French closed the doors to the French Hospital located on Marsh Street and opened the doors to a larger French Hospital located on Johnson Avenue in San Luis Obispo. Dr. French passed away in 1976, but he is still remembered and loved today. Dr. French cared deeply about his patients and his staff and he always reached out to his employees and made them feel like family. 

French Hospital today is the city of San Luis Obispo's only not-for-profit hospital.

Acquired by Dignity Health

On June 1st, 2004, French Hospital Medical Center, along with Arroyo Grande Communinty Hospital in Arroyo Grande south of San Luis Obispo, was acquired by Dignity Health.

Dignity Health, headquartered in San Francisco, CA, is a system of 42 hospitals and medical centers in California, Arizona and Nevada. Founded in 1986, it is one of the nation's largest not-for-profit health care systems and the largest Catholic health care system based in the Western United States. Dignity Health is committed to delivering compassionate, high-quality, affordable health care services with special attention to the poor and underserved. The Dignity Health network of more than 7,500 physicians and approximately 40,000 employees provides health care services to more than four million people annually. In 2004, Dignity Health provided more than $566 million in charity care and un-sponsored community benefit.

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French Hospital Medical Center
1911 Johnson Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 543-5353