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Pennsylvania Hospital ("Pennsy") is a hospital in Center City, Philadelphiamarker, currently affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania Health System ("Penn Health System"). Founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond, it was the first hospital in the United Statesmarker.


On September 2, 1751, Mathias Koplin donated the first plot of ground for the new hospital.

In 1752, the first (temporary) building was opened on High (now Market) Street. Elizabeth Gardner (a Quaker widow) was appointed Matron.

In 1755 the cornerstone was laid for the East Wing of what would become the hospital's permanent location at 8th and Pine Streets. Patients were first admitted to the permanent hospital in 1756. The site continued to grow through the years with the addition of more wings (such as the West Wing of the building which was built in 1796) and buildings, extra land and further expansion.

Pennsylvania Hospital gained a reputation as a center of innovation and medical advancement, particularly in the area of maternity. In its early years it was also known for its particularly advanced and humane facilities for mentally ill patients (at a time when mental illness was very poorly understood and patients were often treated very badly). Care of the mentally ill was removed to West Philadelphia in 1841 with the construction of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, later known as The Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospitalmarker. Under superintendent Thomas Story Kirkbride, the hospital developed a treatment philosophy that became the standard for care of the mentally ill in the 19th century.

In 1950 Pennsylvania Hospital was recognized for becoming more highly specialized as it established, in addition to its sophisticated maternity programs, an intensive care unit for neurological patients, a coronary care unit, an orthopaedic institute, a diabetes center, a hospice, specialized units in oncology and urology and broadened surgical programs.

The hospital was also a center through the years for treating the war wounded. Patients were brought to the hospital for treatment in the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War and the Spanish American War, and units from the hospital were sent abroad to treat wounded in World War I and in World War II (to the Pacific theater).

The seal of the hospital, chosen by Franklin and Bond, incorporates the story of the Good Samaritan; the phrase "Take Care of Him and I will repay Thee" is used on it.

In 1997 Pennsylvania Hospital's Board of Managers made the decision to merge with the Penn Health System. The large Health System helps to support the formerly stand-alone hospital with its network of resources.

In 2001 Pennsylvania Hospital celebrated its 250th anniversary.

The library

In 1762 the first book for the hospital's Medical Library was donated by John Fothergill, a British friend of Franklin's. The library would continue to grow and in 1847 the American Medical Association designated the library as the first, largest, and most important medical library in the United Statesmarker. It is still a repository for historic books and journal collections, with works dating from 1483 to 1930.

Famous physicians


Pennsylvania Hospital is especially noted for its many firsts in the area of women’s medicine, especially in the specialty of maternity.

In 1803 the hospital established a "lying-in" (or maternity) department. This lasted until 1854 when obstetrics and gynecology took a 75-year break at the hospital. The specialties were reinstated in 1929 with the opening of the Woman’s Building (now the Spruce Building) which sported 150 adult beds, 80 bassinets, 2 operating rooms, a series of labor and delivery rooms, and outpatient clinics. It was considered "one of the most modern hospital buildings in the country" especially at a time when women’s medicine was not thought to be very important and most births were still done at home.

This was followed in 1978 with the first Antenatal Testing Unit (ATU) in the region and in 1985 when the first GIFT (Gamete intrafallopian transfer) pregnancy in Philadelphia was achieved at the hospital. In 1987 Pennsylvania Hospital had two obstetrical firsts: the first Birthing Suite in a tertiary care hospital in the state was opened, and the first gestational carrier and egg donor programs in the Delaware Valley were begun to complement the hospital's existing fertility services. In 1995 the hospital was the first in the region to achieve 1,000 live births from in-vitro fertilization, GIFT and other assisted reproductive technologies.


  1. Thomas Bond at Penn Archives

See also

External links

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