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Early Physician Pioneers at St. Joseph Hospital

  • Dr. Milo Tedstrom
    Dr. Herbert Johnston a noted surgeon in Anaheim, convinced the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange that the county needed a modern hospital. Thus began St. Joseph Hospital.

    Dr. Johnston established the hospital’s first Medical Staff, comprised of fewer than 50 doctors. Among them was a young physician who worked in Dr. Johnston’s clinic, Dr. Milo Tedstrom. It was Dr. Tedstrom who admitted the hospital’s first patient on September 16, 1929. He went on to become the first internist and cardiologist in Orange County, was the Chief of the Medical Staff from 1934 to 1936, and was a vital member of the Medical Staff for 48 years.

    One of his heart patients became the first person on the West Coast to have a pacemaker installed. He served as Chairman of the hospital’s Executive Board from 1961 to 1965, during which time St. Joseph Hospital opened its first major expansion - a 290-bed hospital building. He also set up St. Joseph Hospital’s first diabetes clinic. With all his accomplishments, Dr. Tedstrom’s favorite medical task was treating patients in diabetic comas. “You would come in and see them unconscious, and you would give them the proper dose of insulin and have them come out of it and live,” he said. ‘It was a big thrill.”

  • Dr. C.D. Ball

    The first member of the Ball family of physicians to join the St. Joseph Hospital Medical Staff, in 1929, was C.D. Ball. In those days, it was common for him to fight flooding rivers and brave the rattle snakes of Gospel Swamps (today called Fountain Valley) to attend to sick patients. The Ball family came from a long line of American physicians, traced back to Silas Ball who practiced during the Revolutionary War in the 1700s.

    Six of C.D.’s sons and grandsons continued the family tradition here, the last being Orthopedic Surgeon Donald Ball, M.D., who retired and became a member emeritus in 2008. Those who served at St. Joseph Hospital include C.D., Dexter R., John, John Jr., Dexter T., Robert and Donald Ball. Their contributions to medicine extend beyond St. Joseph Hospital. C.D. was the founder of the Orange County Medical Association, and he, along with Dexter R., John D. Sr. and Dexter T., all eventually served as an OCMA presidents.

  • Dr. Ralph White
    Dr. Ralph White, who logged six decades of service in Orange County, joined the St. Joseph Hospital Medical Staff in 1939 when there were 200 Medical Staff members. He watched the Medical Staff grow to more than 1,000 members. Dr. White estimates he delivered 1,500 babies during his tenure. He recalls, “There weren’t any specialists when I started out in the field...My specialty is the skin and all of its contents.”

    After retiring in 1976, Dr. White continued to support St. Joseph Hospital’s mission as a volunteer and donor. He elaborates, “St. Joseph Hospital has always been in the forefront of advancements in medicine, surgical techniques, the whole gamut, really, of medical practice. The hospital wouldn’t be what it is without donations.” To read more about Dr. White click here.

  • Dr. Jesse Burlew

    When another of Orange County’s pioneer physicians, Dr. Jesse Burlew, passed away in 1950 he bequeathed funds to maintain the doctor’s library, now named the Burlew Library. He practiced for 43 years in Santa Ana, and is a past Chairman of the Board at St. Joseph Hospital. His civilian practice was interrupted by World War I, when he served as Captain in the Army’s medical corps. Dr. Burlew was the first Orange County surgeon to be made a fellow of the American College of Physicians and Surgeons.

    - Excerpts from the 75th Anniversary of St. Joseph Hospital commemorative book, published in 2004.