The oldest hospitals in America deserve all the attention they are getting. Why? These health institutions help shape the United States of America’s thriving healthcare sector.
Some of these hospitals have been around for over a century, saving lives and advancing medicine. By the way, hospitals are crucial institutions in any society. There won’t be a strong and prosperous “America” without a robust healthcare system.
No country succeeds without a good healthcare system. Healthy citizens contribute positively to their country’s economic growth.
In this post, we’ll discuss some of the oldest hospitals you can find in America and provide more information to show you how unique these medical institutions are. Keep reading to know more!
The Oldest Hospitals In America Ranked
1. Bellevue Hospital:
Bellevue Hospital, located in New York City, New York, is the oldest public hospital in the United States of America. It is one of the largest hospitals in the country as per number of beds.
Though Bellevue’s historical beginning started in the 1600s, it was officially established in 1736 on the second floor of New York City’s Almshouse (and this was 40 years before the American Revolution began).
Bellevue boasts a rich history of scientific inventions, medical feats, and horrifying incidents. By the way, technology and advancement in medicine centuries ago was subpar.
Interestingly, Bellevue never turns patients away. They treat the homeless, disadvantaged, and even top dignitaries. They never say no to patients and have some of the best medical personnel in the field.
The hospital was established to serve the indigent and homeless, and it did just so. In addition, the people behind Bellevue wanted it to be a teaching hospital for students.
A Handy Tip: President James Garfield and Grover Cleveland were both treated by Bellevue doctors.
Did you know that Bellevue was the first hospital in America to open a maternity ward? It was opened in 1799.
In 1867, Bellevue physicians became the first to report that TB (tuberculosis), rampant at the time, was preventable.
2. Charity Hospital:
Charity Hospital, a general and a teaching hospital, was established in 1736. It was built from a donation by a French shipbuilder and sailor, Jean Louis.
Jean made known his desire to build a hospital for low-income people in New Orleans, Louisiana. Unfortunately, he died a year before, but the project continued.
So, Jean’s plan materialized even after his demise. Charity Hospital was built and served as a medical center for the poor and uninsured individuals.
Interestingly, Charity Hospital outgrew its first location in 1743, prompting the administrators to move it to another location. This time, it was moved to a ship-turning basin close to Basin Street’s edge.
Charity Hospital was built for a third time in 1785, though in the exact location. But this time, its name was changed to San Carlos Hospital in honor of the King of Spain, King Charles III. The new structure had 24 beds, though tragedy happened a few years later.
The hospital was burnt to the ground in 1809 and rebuilt for the fourth time on Canal Street, where the Fairmont Hotel is currently located. Unfortunately, it was deemed a “disgrace to any Christian country or civilian” because of the quality of the building and services. There were no blankets, sheets, or laundry facilities. Chickens even roosted in the rooms.
The hospital was rebuilt for the fifth time in 1832, and the Daughters of Charity took over control two years later.
A Handy Tip: Charity Hospital was the second largest hospital in the country by bed size. It had over 2000 bed spaces.
3. Pennsylvania Hospital:
Now named a historic landmark, Pennsylvania Hospital was established in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers. Dr. Thomas Bond also joined Franklin in making the project a success.
This hospital had its first main building in 1756 and it was established to treat people free of charge.
You’ll see the story of the Samaritan woman imprinted on the seal used in the hospital. It reads, “Take care of him, and I will repay you.” It is home to the first surgical amphitheater, operated from 1804 to 1868.
Pennsylvania Hospital is a teaching hospital and has achieved remarkable feats in medicine and science. It has achieved massive feats in the healthcare sector, especially maternity care.
The hospital was established to serve the community. And it has expanded from a local healthcare facility to a renowned healthcare center recognized worldwide.
The hospital has been with the University of Pennsylvania since 1812 and has a substantial number of employees to cater to the needs of patients.
4. New York Hospital:
New York Hospital was established in 1771 in New York City, New York. It is a decent hospital, one of the most respected in America. It was established following a request by King Charles III, King of England.
New York Hospital has undergone several transformations to make it more responsive to patients’ healthcare demands and needs. In addition to having a new emergency building, they have a new cancer center and have metamorphosed into a proper teaching hospital.
This hospital welcomes everyone with open arms. Their mission is to provide the best medical care to everyone in society, regardless of one’s socio-economic background.
The fact that they provide medical assistance to people of all backgrounds makes them a wise choice for Columbia University students and other patients. By the way, the hospital shares a special relationship with Columbia University.
5. Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center:
Founded in 1773, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center is one of the healthcare centers that set the bar in medicine. John Hopkins, a grocer turned philanthropist, founded it.
Johns Hopkins is one of the most decorated medical centers in America. They have produced some of the world’s best physicians. Their innovative approach to medicine and access to the best technology gives them an edge. This is why physicians trained at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center usually stand out.
Johns Hopkins has metamorphosed from a single building into one of the world’s largest academic medical centers. They also boast one of the best biomedical research centers and have made a name in cardiology.
This was a medical center that began as an almshouse. It then transformed into an asylum before becoming a municipal hospital that has saved thousands of lives via regular research and quality healthcare services.
They boast one of the world’s best cancer research facilities and have the personnel, including materials, to conduct extensive research to find the best possible cure for various diseases.
Johns Hopkins is located in Baltimore, Maryland, and serves as a teaching hospital and biomedical research center.
6. Boston Medical Dispensary:
Boston Medical Dispensary is a general hospital established in 1796 in Boston, Massachusetts. It was established to provide medical relief to Boston’s poor and underserved population.
Boston Dispensary greatly relieved people with low incomes in Boston from the late 18th to the mid-20th century. In the 1960s, it reportedly merged with New England Medical Center, and its new name became Tufts Medical Center.
Boston Medical Dispensary founders include Jonathan Amory, William Brown, John Andrews, John Codman, Stephen Gorham, Samuel Dunn, John Coffin Jones, Samuel Parker, William Smith, William Shattuck, Samuel Stillman and Samuel West.
This hospital was the first in Boston to render medical services to people of all backgrounds. They don’t consider patients’ racial background or social status.
Boston Dispensary not only organizes charitable provision of medical services throughout the city but has several central clinics patients can visit for medical treatment.
7. Candler Hospital:
Candler Hospital is a 384-bed licensed medical facility and a highly sought-after hospital in Georgia. It is located in Savannah, Georgia, and was established in 1804.
Candler Hospital is the oldest hospital in Georgia and serves as a general hospital, though it offers surgical medical services.
This healthcare center is exceptional in the area of primary health care, general surgery, outpatient care, including women’s and children’s care. They offer one of the best oncology services and treatment of digestive illnesses. They specialize in neuroscience, orthopedics, cardiovascular, and various medical conditions.
Initially, Candler was formed as a seaman’s hospital in Savannah, Georgia. Even though it was established in 1804, its history started in 1703 when George Whitfield, a Methodist missionary, brought medicine to treat seamen and the poor in the area. It was chartered as a seamen’s hospital in 1804 and later incorporated with a different name in 1808. The new name was Savannah Poor House and Hospital Society.
The hospital was moved to Gaston Street in 1819, where it remained for 160 years. Following the Union forces’ presence in Savannah, the hospital became the Union Hospital until 1866.
It was renamed Savannah Hospital in 1872 and bought by the Methodist Church in 1931. The church later changed its name to honor Bishop Warren A. Candler.
In 1960, the hospital joined forces with Mary Telfair, the oldest women’s hospital in the country. It was finally named Candler Hospital in 1992. Then, in 1997, it joined forces with St. Joseph Hospital to form Candler St. Joseph Health System.
8. Massachusetts General Hospital:
If you live in Massachusetts, you won’t be surprised to see the Massachusetts General Hospital on the list of the oldest hospitals in America. Established in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital serves as a teaching hospital.
They are one of the best health institutions in medical research. They also house some of the best research institutions in the country. These include Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Research, and Harvard Medical School.
How was Massachusetts General Hospital established? What was the motive behind its establishment? Like most hospitals founded centuries ago, this general hospital was established to help the poor and underserved population.
A group of selfless and highly trained physicians established the hospital. Most notable names include Drs. John Collins Warren and James Jackson. These two were the leading advocates of Mass General Hospital and its strategy.
Today, people worldwide flock to Mass General Hospital to get themselves checked and treated. The medical institution has also made itself one of the citadels of learning, producing leaders in science and medicine.
Mass General Hospital is the original and biggest teaching hospital of the Harvard Medical School. They are also famous for their innovation in cancer research and treatment, orthopedics, digestive disorders, neuroscience, transplantation, trauma care, and urology diseases.
This hospital delivers sophisticated diagnostics and therapeutic care in every specialty of medicine and surgery. Plus, they’re Harvard’s first teaching hospital.
9. McLean Hospital:
McLean Hospital is a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, United States of America, established in 1811.It is highly respected for its clinical staff expertise.
This medical institution has treated several notable personalities from the United States and other parts of the world. Musicians like James Taylor, Mathematician John Nash, and other prominent individuals have been treated here. Nathaniel P. Banks, a Massachusetts politician and Civil War general, was treated here, too.
McLean Hospital has transformed over the years to become a leading psychiatric hospital. It is also Harvard Medical School’s biggest psychiatric teaching hospital and a leader in mental health treatment, research, and education.
When this hospital was first opened, it was called the “Asylum for the Insane.” It was also a part of Massachusetts General Hospital. McLean runs the most extensive research program of any private psychiatric medical center.
10. Friends Hospital:
Established in 1813, Friends Hospital is a famous psychiatric hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Quakers established it and initially called it “Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of Use of their Reason.”
The name was later changed to Frankford Asylum for the Insane. It is the first private mental hospital in the United States of America and the oldest continuously operating psychiatric hospital in the country.
The medical institution’s campus, dating back to its founding, is a National Historic Landmark. The hospital excels in the area of mental health treatment.
The Quakers established the Friends Hospital with the belief that there is a chance for individuals to live a “moral, ordered existence if only they are treated with kindness, dignity, and respect, irrespective of their disabilities.”
Thomas Scattergood, an influential minister at the time, was very vocal about what he viewed as harsh treatment of those in mental asylums. He wanted a change that involved the moral treatment of patients.
Thomas’ view inspired the creation of Friends Hospital, the first private psychiatric hospital in the United States of America.
Friends Hospital is still operating and following its original objectives of creativity, vocational and horticultural therapy. Additionally, the institution involves patients in decisions regarding their health care.
11. University Hospital:
The famous University Hospital was completed in 1915 in Augusta. It was built for UGA’s medical department, which was later called Georgia Health Science University.
The hospital ranks high for several medical conditions, as reported by US News. These include leukemia, myeloma, colon cancer, lymphoma, heart attack, heart failure, diabetes, colon cancer surgery, kidney failure, and knee replacement.
University Hospital provides numerous medical services and serves the state of Georgia. They boast well-trained physicians and medical facilities to cater for the sick.
Piedmont Augusta is the new name of the University Hospital. In 2021, there was an announcement that Piedmont Healthcare would take over University Hospital. It did on March 1, 2022, and the name was formally changed to Piedmont Augusta.
The hospital renders primary healthcare services, prompt care, and specialty healthcare services such as endocrinology, neuroscience, gastroenterology, heart, vascular, and rheumatology.
A Handy Tip: Piedmont Augusta is a not-for-profit private hospital.
So these are the oldest hospitals in America. They are medical facilities that have been around for more than a century. Some were established more than two centuries ago.
Some of these hospitals have made massive contributions to medicine and science. Some have robust research centers dedicated to finding cures for life-threatening conditions, such as cancer and others. Furthermore, some operate as teaching hospitals, developing leaders in medicine and science.