History of NHCP
On March 5, 1942, the Secretary of the Navy approved Santa Margarita Ranch located in San Diego County, Calif. as a Marine Corps Training Center. Subsequently, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery recommended the construction of a hospital to be built on the western shore of the Training Center's Lake O'Neill. It was designated the U.S. Naval Hospital, Santa Margarita, California.
The construction of the hospital took about one year. The facility was placed in commission Sept. 3, 1943, with Navy Capt. (Dr.) Joseph l. Schwartz, as the Commanding Officer.
As a result of confusion in mail delivery with a town of the same name, the hospital was re-designated as U.S. Naval Hospital, Santa Margarita, Oceanside, Calif. Aug. 1, 1950. Since then, the hospital has had five names until May 25, 1967, when it was given the current name of Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The hospital compound consisted of 117 acres of former farmland, 91 acres of river bottom, 7 acres of slough and steep hillside, and 37 acres of lake for a total of 252 acres.
Initially, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton consisted of 76 separate, temporary, wood frame buildings. The hospital had a bed capacity of 600 and a network of corridors connected the buildings. The distances between the different areas of the hospital were so great that doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen used bicycles to make their hospital rounds.
In August of 1967, the Commandant of the Marine Corps authorized the reassignment of 90 acres of land aboard the base to the Navy for the purpose of providing a site for the construction of a new modern Naval Hospital. On May 13, 1971, ground was broken at the new hospital site, and in December 1974, the hospital had its first occupants. This eight-story facility was considered a medium sized Naval Hospital.
In 2009, the replacement of Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton was approved and is the largest American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project in the Department of the Navy. Construction was started Dec. 2, 2010, with a groundbreaking ceremony and the end of construction was signified with a key passing ceremony Oct. 17, 2013. The replacement Hospital is a 500,000-square-foot, four-story hospital and will serve area military members, families, and retirees. The transition to the new facility will take place Dec. 2-15, 2013. The new facility will provide the same services as the old hospital.