Marian Regional Medical Center (MRMC) staff and physicians have persevered in consistently providing compassionate, quality health care throughout the hospital’s 75-year history, even in challenging circumstances.

This unwavering commitment to providing excellent care was especially apparent in October 1959, when a San Francisco-bound Pacific Air Line DC-3 airplane crashed in a pasture near Santa Maria shortly after takeoff due to the failure of an engine cylinder.

The swift response of staff and physicians, including some off duty, resulted in the treatment of 19 crash survivors within an hour, along with x-rays administered and records taken. Despite the potential for significant loss of life, only one person—the co-pilot—died as a result of the crash.

The October 1959 incident instilled confidence in both hospital staff and the community at large that Marian, then called Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospital, was able to skillfully handle large-scale emergencies.

“Even today, when we regularly drill and educate our staff to prepare for potential disasters and large scale medical crises of various types, a plane crash involving 19 injuries would be a significant incident at Marian,” says Tauny Sexton, Senior Director Emergency/Trauma Services at MRMC “It’s certainly impressive that in 1959 Marian physicians and staff were able to so skillfully handle a disaster of this magnitude. This performance shows the diligence of these care providers decades ago in working together to provide excellent treatment.”

According to a journal written by members of the Sisters of St. Francis, who in 1940 founded Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospital, the sisters were enjoying a movie in the staff room when the call of the plane crash came in.

The sisters dispersed and alerted hospital administrators and physicians were quickly summoned to the hospital. Physicians and nurses were ready and waiting when the ambulances began arriving.

The hospital’s halls were bustling with crash victims’ relatives, police and curious bystanders. The entire hospital team involved, from the woman working the switchboard to physicians and nurses, were commended for their apt handling of the emergency.

When the sisters were taken out to see the wreck scene, they marveled that more lives had not been lost.

“It was gratifying to all concerned to see that the hospital was able to handle unusual emergencies,” the sisters wrote.

About Marian Regional Medical Center

Marian Regional Medical Center, located in Santa Maria, Ca., is rated among the top 10 percent in the nation for cardiac care and is a designated STEMI Receiving Center (ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction) in Santa Barbara County.  

Santa Barbara County STEMI-receiving programs earned the Silver Award from the American Heart Association for excellence in patient care. Marian has achieved prestigious designation as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission.

In addition, Marian has received the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Clinical Excellence Award. The medical center’s cancer program is distinguished as the only comprehensive community cancer center on the Central Coast.  

The need to meet the demand for quality, technologically advanced care for a growing community led Marian to open its doors to a new state-of-the-art, 191-bed facility in the spring of 2012. Marian is a member of Dignity Health of the Central Coast, which also includes Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, Ca., French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, Ca., St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, Ca. and St. John’s Pleasant Valley in Camarillo, Ca.

Dignity Health of the Central Coast is an integrated network of top quality hospitals and physicians from the most prestigious medical schools, as well as comprehensive outpatient services including primary care offices, premier ambulatory surgery centers, technologically-advanced laboratories and imaging centers and a full service home-health agency, all recognized for quality, safety and service.  

Each hospital is supported by an active philanthropic foundation to help meet the growing health care needs of its respective community. Learn more about Marian Regional Medical Center at

—Megan Maloney represents Marian Regional Medical Center.