Little Bits of History

Pennsylvania Hospital

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 11, 2010

Pennsylvania Hospital

February 11, 1752: The first hospital in the United States opens. Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, was granted a charter on May 11, 1751 by the Pennsylvania legislature. Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond were charged with creating an environment to care for the sick-poor and the mentally ill. Temporary housing was given on High Street.

The cornerstone of the East Wing building, the first of the permanent structures, was laid in 1755. More wings were added throughout the years. The hospital gained a reputation for innovative treatments and advanced study. The treatments for the mentally ill were extremely innovative. The standards set at this premiere hospital became the normative method for treatment as time went on.

The hospital was particularly noted for the care offered to maternity patients. In 1803, the “Pennsy” as it is sometimes called, first established a “lying-in” or maternity department. In 1854 this portion of the hospital stopped service and only opened again in 1929.The medical library, which is one of the best in the nation, was begun in 1762 when Dr. John Fothergill donated the first book. Historic books dating from 1483 to 1930 are housed there. Benjamin Rush, once of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, practiced there from 1783 until 1813.

In 1997, the Board of Managers opted to merge with the University of Pennsylvania Health System. They currently are a 534-bed institution offering a wide range of services to over 25,000 people each year. Today, there are over 10,000 hospitals in the US serving nearly, 72,000,000 patients each year.

“A Hospital is no place to be sick.” – Samuel Goldwin

“I would rather be kept alive in the efficient if cold altruism of a large hospital than expire in a gush of warm sympathy in a small one.” – Aneurin Bevan

“First need in the reform of hospital management? That’s easy! The death of all dietitians, and the resurrection of a French chef.” – Marin H. Fischer

“We also see the same health problems you would see in any hospital setting — cardiac patients, diabetes, kidney and pulmonary problems and occasionally a gunshot wound,” – Scott Warner

Also on this day, in 1808 a new home heating method was found.

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  1. […] on this day: Pennsylvania Hospital – In 1752, the first hospital in the colonies opened. Anthracite coal – In 1808, a […]


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