Concerted fund raising efforts included door-to-door canvassing of businesses and homes, bearing some resemblance to the Sisters' begging tours in the mid 1800s. A $7 million facility, including equipment and initial supplies, was built at 600 N.E. 92nd Avenue. On March 26, 1972, St. Joseph Community Hospital moved 41 patients, its staff, and all life support systems into the new facility.
Nine days later, both hospital systems were severely tested when the a rare tornado struck several Vancouver business and caused a roof to collapse at a local elementary school.
In 1977, a corporate merger between the more experienced Vancouver Memorial Hospital board and the relatively new St. Joseph Community Hospital board formed a new organization, Southwest Washington Hospitals, to oversee operations at both facilities.
Two significant events in the early 1980s brought dramatic shifts to health care in Clark County.
- The completion of the Sam Jackson Bridge on Interstate 205 opened east Clark County to development. In a short time, the population center had shifted to east and north Clark County, placing St. Joseph Community Hospital in the middle of the high growth area.
- In 1983, Congress passed legislation changing forever how health care providers would be paid for their services. Instead of being paid for services they provided, hospitals and doctors would be paid a flat rate for each diagnosis-related group (DRG). It was the beginning of the managed care era.
With Medicare payments now based mostly on diagnosis rather than actual cost to provide service, Southwest Washington Hospitals found itself, like every other hospital in the country, needing to find ways to work with reducing income. The number of outpatient procedures surpassed inpatient procedures. By the mid 1980s, the board made the difficult decision to consolidate all acute care services except psychiatric care to the St. Joseph Community Hospital site.