Explore Palm Springs: Torney General Hospital

El Mirador Hotel becomes Army medical facility during World War II



Taken in July of 1945, a World War II soldier and a Grey Lady converse at Torney General Hospital, which was the El Mirado Hotel and now is Desert Regional Medical Center.

courtesy of the Palm Springs Historical Society

At the beginning of World War II, the Army purchased the El Mirador Hotel and converted it into a 1,600 bed medical facility.

The Army hospital specialized in general medicine, treating rheumatic fever and general and orthopedic surgery. The healing climate of the desert was used for the rest and recreation of the GIs recovering from their war injuries.

About 250 Italian prisoners of war worked at the facility and were housed in a detention facility next to the hospital.

During the summer of 1943, the Army transferred the hospital to the Army Air Force. In November of 1945, the facility was turned over to the Federal Works Administration and today Desert Regional Medical Center sits on the grounds of what was Torney General Hospital.

In July of 1945 after the surrender of Germany and before the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, this photograph shows recuperating GIs and local volunteers sitting in the shade on the grounds of Torney General Hospital.

Throughout the war, local women supported the war effort by volunteering as Grey Ladies, a division of the American Red Cross. They provided personal nonmedical services to the sick, injured and disabled patients. Their work ranged from writing letters and reading to recuperating soldiers to being hostesses in the recreation room and at the information desk.

As Palm Springs celebrates its 75th anniversary, there are a multitude of ways to learn more about this desert treasure. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

Weekly, the Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For more information, visit www.pshistoricalsociety.org

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