People have lived on Catalina Island for more than 7,000 years. The first written evidence of doctors on the island dates back to 1889 when physicians were treating patients at Two Harbors and in Avalon.
By 1915, a clinic had been established in Avalon’s first permanent structure, the Metropole Hotel. However, a fire destroyed the Metropole and most of the city that year and patients began being seen at the Strand Hotel.
From 1923 to 1957 the Hospital assumed responsibility for the island’s medical services at the site now occupied by the Los Angeles County Services building on Sumner Avenue.
From the years 1958 to 1960 the island was without a hospital and used a clinic (located where the dental office on Metropole was formerly situated) to perform minor surgeries and deliver babies.
During the late 1950’s a dedicated group of volunteers decided Avalon needed an actual hospital, a place where those in need could be treated on an emergency basis and offered in-patient care. The founders group was led by Joe Arno. Avalon Municipal Hospital became a reality and opened its doors at the current 100 Falls Canyon Road location on January 24, 1960. Avalon’s population was about 1,900 people at that time. Avalon’s original hospital building featured six beds and had a capacity for eight. The building included the emergency and operating rooms, the laboratory, x-ray and observation room.
In 1982, the Avalon Municipal Hospital Auxiliary spearheaded a fundraising campaign for a major expansion. A new wing included several new patient rooms, two rooms to meet community needs for long-term skilled nursing patients (SNF), the physical therapy room, and the Oak Room for resident and hospital activities. In 1988 the Avalon Medical Development Corporation (AMDC) a non-profit corporation was formed. AMDC is dedicated to the development of hospital services. It expanded the area below the hospital and the SNF rooms to accommodate clinic services and licensed as a non-profit Hospital-based rural health clinic in 1991.
AMDC assumed operations of the hospital on January 1, 1993. An agreement was reached with the University of Southern California’s Department of Family Medicine for management and professional medical services on the island in 1997. Mounting financial losses facilitated the need for a referendum vote in April 2000 for an increase in the local sales tax (Ballot Measure C) which designated an additional half percent of sales tax revenue to Avalon Municipal Hospital. Approved by voters, the tax base “boost” went into effect in October 2000. To standardize the name — Avalon Municipal Hospital officially became the Catalina Island Health. It purchased a new CT scanner and began to offer telemedicine services to connect island patients to medical specialists on the mainland.