Before the ribbon marking its official opening was even cut, Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta accepted its first patients Friday morning.
By 8:30 a.m., two expectant mothers registered in the emergency room to give birth, said hospital spokesperson Kathryn Stiles. Another patient checked in for an elective procedure.
The first baby born will be given a photo package and have the honor of having its photo permanently adorn the walls of the labor and delivery ward, Stiles said.
A small crowd of hospital administrators and elected officials from both Murrieta and Temecula gathered at 8 a.m. for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the hospital. Dressed in scrubs, hospital staff cheered in anticipation.
"It has been a long time," said Kim Wood, a nurse who got hired at the hospital three months ago.
"It will be nice to work close to home," said Wood, a Temecula resident, who used to commute to Riverside.
Peter Baker, asssistant vice president of business development, was also glad the day had finally arrived.
"It has taken about five years of planning, and 26 months to get it built. We had to hire over 500 staff. We've been faced with tremendous obstacles but we are finally here," said Baker, a Temecula resident.
The cover was taken off the hospital's entryway sign, announcing the emergency department was ready to serve patients.