by Lori Harasta
As Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association celebrates “70 Years of Caring”, let’s explore the man behind the name.
Livingston’s namesake, Dr. William Reinhardt Livingston, was the son of well-known Nebraska plains buffalo hunter and early California pioneer, Robert G. Livingston.
Robert came west to California at age 15 in 1854. He first settled in Placerville, then known as ‘Hangtown”, and moved to Ventura County in 1869.
William was born in Wynema (Port Hueneme), California on December 1st, 1870. His grandfather was Robert R. Livingston, who helped draft the Declaration of Independence, and as chancellor of New York, administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington.
Dr. Livingston earned his medical degree in 1893 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago. He interned in Chicago before moving to Tampico, Mexico where he was in charge of the Mexican Railroad Hospital from 1895-96.
He and his family settled back in Oxnard shortly thereafter, and by 1908, he had a growing medical practice. He opened a hospital on B Street with Drs. A.A. Maulhardt and R.D. Potts.
It is estimated that Dr. Livingston brought more babies into the world in the Oxnard area than any other doctor. In many instances, he delivered three generations of babies within the same family.
Dr. Livingston was a leader in the Ventura County medical community serving as the Chief of Staff of St. John’s Hospital. The following is an excerpt from the archives of St. John’s Hospital:
“We all feel that the name of Dr. W.R. Livingston, one of the chief benefactors of our hospital, should be written in golden characters in the Annals, instead of in these few lines. We realize that without the support of this loyal friend and head surgeon, St. John’s Hospital would soon cease to exist.”
Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association was founded in 1947 by a group of civic-minded business and professional people who saw a need for the provision of home care services as an alternative to institutionalizing the frail, elderly, sick and disabled.
Founding Nurse Olivia Hathaway (Mrs. Julien Hathaway) made her first house call on July 21, 1947. By 1955, the agency’s three nurses were visiting nearly 300 patients a year—and one third were indigent residents who could not pay.