Our History


The plans for Bethesda Memorial Hospital began with a small group of community-minded area residents in the immediate post-World War II years who shared a dream to create an area hospital which would not only serve the rapidly increasing health care demands of the community, but would be a showcase for hospitals all over the world.

For 65 years the Bethesda Hospital Foundation has supported the Hospital in accomplishing its mission through the acquisition, management and disbursement of charitable assets and by helping fund the Hospital's programs, initiatives and Centers of Excellence.

The Foundation continues to raise funds to maintain our Comprehensive Centers of Excellence in many specialties including Heart, Stroke and Cancer as well as support renovations and advancements in numerous areas including the Bethesda Comprehensive Cancer Center and Bethesda's Center for Women and Children.

Bethesda's May 25, 2010 groundbreaking started the building of Bethesda West Hospital as an 80-bed, full service, acute care hospital with general medical, surgical and intensive care services, and a 24-hour emergency department. Located on the northeast corner of Boynton Beach Boulevard and US-441, Bethesda West Hospital will be an 80-bed -- all private room – community hospital that provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient medical services, with state-of-the-art technology that incorporates environmentally sound practices to support superior patient care.

In January 2013, Bethesda West Hospital opened as a state-of-the-art, environmentally sound facility that complements the architecture of the surrounding area and feature: 68 all private patient rooms; 12 intensive care rooms; four full service operating room suites; 12 post-anesthesia care treatment areas; a 24-hour emergency department with 18 patient treatment areas; general medical and surgical services; a full complement of diagnostic services including MRI, CT, general radiography and mammography.

Milestones in the History of the Bethesda Hospital Foundation  

2012 - The Bethesda Hospital Foundation, celebrating 65 years of service to the community, remains committed to raising awareness and raising funds to provide world-class healthcare in our community tour community hospital. Our challenge is to: Sustain our highly recognized Centers of Excellence; Provide the latest in technology and advanced medical treatments; Improve patient care; Support clinical and nursing staff; and Prepare for the future with an all-new hospital to serve the southwestern community of Palm Beach County.

2011 - The Foundation's Caring for Our Community Campaign in support of Centers of Excellence and technology for the Bethesda community continued. With the help of community supporters, Bethesda unveiled the Center for Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery and a new virtual-reality simulator – the first in Florida -- to help surgeons at Bethesda to expand their surgical capabilities utilizing the da Vinci Si Surgical System, a state-of-the-art platform for minimally invasive surgery.

2010 - Bethesda Healthcare System broke ground on the new Bethesda West Hospital on May 25. Construction began June 1, and is expected to take 30 months to complete. The Bethesda Hospital Foundation is committed to raising support to build Palm Beach County’s newest hospital as well as raise funds to create and maintain Bethesda Memorial Hospital’s Centers of Excellence including the Bethesda Heart Institute, the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Cornell Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine, the Driskill Endovascular Center, the Center for Women and Children and the new Orthopaedic Institute.

2009 - Bethesda Memorial Hospital, the first, not-for-profit, community hospital built in South Palm Beach County, celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Bethesda‘s Stroke Center successfully completed The Joint Commission’s Advanced Disease-Specific Care Certification. In conjunction with the Bethesda Heart Institute, Bethesda is proud to be the first hospital in Palm Beach County to receive the distinguished Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories accreditation. Bethesda was the recipient of the Florida Exceptional Employer Award presented by the state of Florida recognizing Bethesda’s commitment to hiring and retaining people with disabilities and their initiative in creating unique employment opportunities.

2008 - The new 115,000-square-foot, four-story, a 39-bed Bethesda Heart Institute opened, this "heart hospital within a hospital," began providing the most comprehensive level of cardiovascular services for the area's rapidly growing population. Upon the opening, the Foundation announced it had surpassed the $100 million campaign goal. Nearly 10,000 individuals and corporations made more than 40,000 gifts to the Foundation, as modest as a few dollars and as exceptional as millions including 25 gifts or commitments of $1 million. The Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Endovascular Center also opened to allow surgeons to care for patients with vascular problems using minimally invasive procedures. 

2007 - Mrs. Driskill’s generosity continued as she made a $2.7 million gift to build the Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Endovascular Center. This new, state-of-the-art endovascular center will allow surgeons to care for patients with vascular problems, using minimally invasive procedures. Meanwhile construction of the $57 million Bethesda Heart Institute was nearing completion.

2006  - Bethesda broke ground and began construction on the new Bethesda Heart Institute, an all-new “heart hospital within a hospital.”  It was announced that the Foundation raised $87 million by the end of the year. Bethesda also received the Gold Seal of Approval™ for Stroke Care by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) becoming Palm Beach County’s First Certified Stroke Center. 

2005 - The Bethesda Stroke Center became a Certified Primary Stroke Center, the first of its kind in Palm Beach County. Mrs. Lucienne Driskill gave $5 million to add to her initial $1 million gift, on behalf of herself and her late husband, for the Driskill Center for Caring Excellence. Her gift led the way to the Foundation surpassing the $70 million mark this year. During this time Bethesda became one of the first hospitals in the country, and the first in Palm Beach County, to implement a $1.4 million bar-code technology to enhance patient safety called Medication Administration Check (MAC). The hospital also opened an 800-space parking garage for visitors and employees.

2004 - The Foundation announced that it had surpassed the $50 million milestone. Mrs. Lucienne Driskill gave $1 million on behalf of herself and her late husband, to establish the Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Center for Caring Excellence. Bethesda doubled the size of the Emergency Department with 43 private treatment rooms and three semi-private rooms, and added a new Express Care area for minor injuries, a state-of-the-art triage area, a Pediatric Emergency Department with a family waiting room and a dedicated x-ray room providing image results in three seconds. By year-end the Foundation celebrated raising $60 million to date.

2003 - The Bethesda Comprehensive Cancer Center became an affiliate of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, a National Cancer Institute-designated center. Bethesda opened the new Radiation Oncology Center at Bethesda Health City and the Foundation reached the half-way point in the Community Challenge Campaign, raising $50 million.

2002 - Bethesda Hospital Foundation received the largest single gift in its history-to-date, a $5 million commitment from the late philanthropist Mr. George Cornell in 2002 to establish a comprehensive, world-class, nationally recognized Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine. Mr. Cornell made a bequest which supplemented his initial gift and the new $9 million Institute was named in his honor when it opened in 2005. His gift brought the $100 million Community Challenge Campaign fundraising total to $36 million. The Bethesda Day at Hunters Run Event was started by members of the Hunters Run Community and has raised millions of dollars for many areas of the Hospital.

2000 - The Foundation announced the start of the public phase of a $100 million campaign stating $23 million had been raised to date and presented the first Annual Women of Grace Luncheon honoring women volunteers making a difference in the community.

1998 - Bethesda Hospital Association is renamed the Bethesda Hospital Foundation.

1997 - The Endowment Fund amounted to $3.2 million in two years.

1996 - The Battjes Vascular Institute opened to patients.

1995 - The Bethesda Hospital Endowment Fund was unofficially started through donations made by bequests to the Association.

1992 - The Bethesda Hospital Association donated $600,000 from the annual campaign to support a major renovation of the Emergency Department. 

1991 - The Early Learning Center was opened offering childcare to Bethesda employees. Every year since it opened there has been a waiting list.

1990 - Six additional Labor-Delivery-Recovery rooms were added. The Association donated $1.6 million to assist in opening the first dedicated outpatient Heart Catheterization Lab in Palm Beach County.

1985 - Radiation Oncology Center was opened. The community of Quail Ridge Golf and Country Club organized a golf tournament for the benefit of the Radiation Oncology Center, which continues today.

1984 - Bethesda Memorial Hospital changed from a tax-assisted district to a non-profit organization.

1982 - Bethesda Memorial Hospital raised its bed capacity to 350 with expansions.

1970 - Bethesda was the first hospital, not only in Florida, but also the Southeast, to have installation of Medelco's "Total Hospital Information System," an instantaneous, simultaneous, computerized intra-hospital communications system through which all departments involved in patient care could be appraised within six seconds of their needs and physicians' orders.

1969 - The first Pro-Am Golf Tournament was held as a fundraiser hosted by Champions Tour Professional Bob Murphy and Delray Dunes Master Professional Laurie Hammer; the Foundation held the event every February for 40 years with Mr. Murphy and Mr. Hammer as hosts. 

1960 - Bethesda received accreditation from the American Hospital Association just one year and 17 days after opening its doors - making it one of only 100 hospitals to be accredited in less than 5 years; (some hospitals have to wait as long as 5 years)

1959 - Bethesda Memorial Hospital opened its doors to admit its first patients; 32 doctors were on medical staff, 65 employees and 70 beds. During its first 30 years, Bethesda was the only hospital from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale to have a continuously-operating Obstetrical Newborn Nursery Department.

1957 - A contest was held to name the Hospital - a Delray Beach resident chose Bethesda, from the biblical story of the healing pool of that name; A groundbreaking ceremony was held.

1955 - The first Hospital Ball, a black-tie gala, was held as a fundraiser for the Association. This special social event of the season continues today as one of the oldest galas in Palm Beach County

1947 - Charter date of the Gulfstream Hospital Association, a group of citizens from Palm Beach county who organized the construction of a not-for-profit hospital in their community.