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Looking Back

Dr. Leonard Vanderbosch on Providence Holy Family HospitalCelebrating Spokane's Holy Family Hospital's 50th Anniversary: Dr. Leonard Vanderbosch and his daughter, Marci.

Story: Becky Nappi

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Providence Holy Family Hospital, several people shared memories of the hospital’s early years. Recently, Dr. Leonard Vanderbosch, now 76, the medical director for an extended care facility in Spokane, reminisced about Holy Family. His daughter, Marci, a Providence caregiver, sat in on the interview, too.

I formally started an association with Holy Family in July 1968 when I joined a practice on the North Side. My first impression was that it was a true community hospital, and that's the greatest compliment I can pay to a hospital. I worked in (mega) hospitals before, and I found Holy Family to be a good, caring community. It fit just right for me. At that time, patients on the North Side thought going to the South Hill was akin to going to Seattle. It was overwhelming, especially for the older folks.

Dr. Vanderbosch remembered how the presence of the Dominican Sisters created a spiritual environment at the hospital.

They gave the feeling that living and dying is a religious experience, and they applied the religious ethic without overwhelming people, because not everyone was Catholic and not everybody believed in God.

One Sister I really remember? Sister Isentrude. The perfect description is the Energizer Bunny. She was there if you got there at 6 in the morning, and she was there at night when you left. Everybody knew her and she knew everybody, and she let you know about important things without imposing. Another Sister I really remember was Sister Eumelia -- the head of surgery. She'd go back to Germany every year or two, and she'd bring back the little candies with liquor in them. Another Sister, I can’t recall her name, gave anesthesia and was on call for a (maternity) patient I was delivering. We delivered one and suddenly realized the patient was having twins. I was talking to the nurses and Sister said: “Doctor, are you going to get that baby out of there, or are we going to be here all night?"

The Sisters, we really miss them. I can’t overstate that.

But there are many things Dr. Vanderbosch doesn’t miss about the past, including being on call most nights.

I had a pager, and my son was quite an athlete, and I'd go to his soccer games. I'd have a pager and I'd have to go find a telephone. By the time I'd come back, the game was over. I can think of many meals at home when the pager would go off. They (eventually) hired full-time emergency room physicians, I did not miss going in at two in the morning to see somebody and then going back home to get up at 6 and do my practice all day long. Emergency room doctors prolonged our lives!

Marci asked her dad this question: “How would you like to be remembered by the colleagues you worked with at Holy Family?”

I want to be remembered as someone you could work with who respected other people and actually acted upon requests rather than just giving lip service. Knowing when you came to me you were heard, and you got an answer. If I caused a problem, which I did sometimes, I’d sit down and talk about it. I worked with the greatest people in the world. I’ve been blessed to be associated with such a caring community and have the support and patience of my wife and family.

Becky Nappi is director of Mission Integration for Providence Health & Services in Spokane, WA.