Washington Hospital Center was created by merging three respected hospitals that opened in the decades after the Civil War: Emergency, Garfield and Episcopal Eye, Ear and Throat. Once the idea of the Hospital Center emerged in 1943, it took nearly 15 years for funding, planning and construction to be completed.
Washington Hospital Center was the brainchild of three visionary women—Eleanor Tydings Ditzen, Bessie Huidekoper and Lady Elysabeth Welsh—who were appalled by the conditions they saw while they were volunteering in the predecessor hospitals during World War II.
President Harry S. Truman signed the Hospital Center Act (Public Law 648) in August 1943, paving the way for creation of Washington Hospital Center.
In a remarkable feat of engineering, the old chapel from Episcopal Hospital was moved intact to the Hospital Center during its construction. In August 1959, the first wedding ceremony was held in the chapel's new location.
Washington Hospital Center's chapel is the site of denominational and interfaith services and also serves as a place of solace for patients, staff and visitors alike. Today, the hospital's Clinical Pastoral Education program attracts clergy nationwide.
When Washington Hospital Center opened on March 10, 1958, it was one of the first completely air-conditioned hospitals in the United States and one of the first to install computerized accounting systems.
In 1958, unique Hospital Center features included the area's first tissue bank and eye bank, intercoms linking rooms to nurses' stations, beds that could be raised and lowered electronically and a pneumatic tube system for hospital-wide communication.
Washington Hospital Center's first patient was a woman who gave birth at 2:40 p.m., opening day. Today, the Hospital Center ushers an average of 4,500 babies into the world each year.
When the staff of the old Episcopal Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital moved to Washington Hospital Center on June 14, 1958, the new eye unit was housed on 2C (“to see”).
Washington Hospital Center was built on a former dairy farm, and when it opened in 1958, its only neighbors were Catholic University, the Soldier's Home and the reservoir. Orchards covered much of the rest of the surrounding property.
The School of Nursing was the successor to a school run by Garfield Memorial Hospital. It closed in 1982, marking the end of 93 consecutive years of hospital-based training, with 3,500 graduates to its credit.
The East Building was formerly the dorm for students from the School of Nursing. During the 1970s, it housed radiology and medical students as well, with efficiencies on a separate floor for married residents.
Washington Hospital Center originally consisted of two red-brick buildings: the main hospital and the School of Nursing. On what is today's parking lot 7, at the corner of Michigan Ave. and First St., NW, staff often played softball after work. (41)
From Emergency Hospital, the new hospital inherited the Needy Sick Fund, designed to help patients in need cover the costs of care. The fund continues to this day as an important service for area residents and a popular charity for employees and other donors.
In 1963, three seriously injured patients became the first to be transported by police helicopter to Washington Hospital Center. Twenty years later, the hospital created its own air ambulance service, MedSTAR Transport.
During the 1960s, the Hospital Center's first helipad was in an empty field now occupied by Children's Hospital. At night, nurses held battery-powered lanterns to light the landing.
From its debut in 1983 to date, MedSTAR Transport has flown more than 40,000 critically ill and injured patients to the Hospital Center from as far away as New York City, North Carolina and Ohio.
In 1968, Washington Hospital Center opened the city's first in-house neonatal intensive care unit outside of Children's Hospital, eliminating the need to transfer critically ill newborns to another facility.
The Hospital Center was named the official trauma center for the District of Columbia in 1966, foreshadowing the creation of MedSTAR — the Medical Shock-Trauma Acute Resuscitation unit that ultimately opened on the ground floor of the ICU Tower in 1979.
Washington Hospital Center has helped victims from some of the region's and nation's worst disasters, including the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981; the Air Florida crash in 1982; the 9/11 Pentagon attack and area anthrax incidents in 2001; and the LaPlata, Md., tornadoes in 2002.
February 22, 1980: Three Code Blues were announced within minutes of one another as Olympics fans collapsed when the underdog United States men's hockey team beat the Soviets during the “Miracle on Ice.”
When the Pentagon was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, the Hospital Center called a Code Orange for mass casualty readiness. Dispatched within minutes of the incident, MedSTAR helicopters were among the first on the scene. The Burn Center cared for 10 victims of the attack, nine of whom survived.
Washington Hospital Center's renowned Burn Center—the region's only facility for adults—is among the 25 busiest in the nation, treating an average of 600 patients each year. Its expert staff provides intensive, rehabilitative and outpatient care.
The not-for-profit Washington Hospital Center is the largest private hospital in the nation's capital, and one of the biggest in the mid-Atlantic region.
When cardiac catheterization debuted in the 1960s, Hospital Center surgeons and technicians had to improvise, creating custom catheters by melting plastic tubing and shaping it into the desired configuration for each patient, and sometimes using guitar “G” strings as arterial guide wires.
February 12, 1982: Physicians performed Washington Hospital Center's first angioplasty. That year, a total of six angioplasties were performed. Today, the hospital is an international leader in the field, and performs approximately 15,000 cardiac catheterizations annually, one-third of which are angioplasties.
In 1996, Washington Hospital Center launched Listen to Your Heart: Women at Risk , a women and heart disease campaign that led the way for other national organizations to follow. On the evening of the campaign's launch, the Hospital Center's press conference became the lead story on ABC World News Tonight.
In 2006, Microsoft purchased the revolutionary software program, Azyxxi, from Washington Hospital Center. Designed by a team of Hospital Center doctors and developers, the program integrates complex patient information from a variety of sources.
In 1997, Washington National Eye Center—successor to one of the Hospital Center's three founding members, Episcopal Eye, Ear and Throat—celebrated its 100 th anniversary. Its retina surgery program is considered one of the top three in the nation.
In 1999, the Medical House Call program was launched to provide health care to the community's frail elderly in the safety and comfort of their own homes. The innovative program now serves as a national model for geriatric care.
Washington Hospital Center is licensed for 926 beds, shares a 47-acre campus with three other hospitals, and is a member of MedStar Health, the largest health care provider in the mid-Atlantic region with eight hospitals and numerous other health care facilities.
Washington Cancer Institute diagnoses more cases of cancer than any other provider in the District of Columbia. In 2007 alone, it recorded nearly 80,000 outpatient visits and admitted more than 2,300 patients for specialized cancer care.
Washington Hospital Center consistently ranks among the nation's top hospitals as measured by entities such as U.S. News & World Report and Consumer Checkbook .
Washington Hospital Center's neurosciences program offers the full range of surgical and minimally invasive treatment, and operates the District's first Primary Stroke Center accredited by The Joint Commission.
In FY2007, Washington Hospital Center provided $86 million in unsponsored care to its patients, $27 million in charity care and $59.3 million in bad debt.
In recognition of the increased need for guidance in handling complex medical decisions, the Hospital Center created one of the first bioethics committees in the country in 1982.
In 1989, surgeons at Washington Hospital Center performed the first simultaneous heart and pancreas transplant in the nation, as well as one of the first kidney-pancreas transplants.
Washington Hospital Center's kidney transplant program is one of the largest on the East Coast, with outcomes that consistently exceed national averages, particularly among ethnic minorities. On average, the hospital transplants 100 kidneys each year.
In its 35 th year, the Hospital Center admitted 34,000 patients annually. By its 50 th anniversary in 2008, it counted approximately 371,575 outpatient visits and 46,209 inpatient admissions.
In 1994, the Cancer Institute opened a prevention and screening clinic for low-income patients, the precursor to today's Cancer Preventorium. The Preventorium served as the model for the federal Patient Navigator, Outreach and Chronic Disease Prevention Act of 2004.
To help pregnant teens avoid a subsequent unintended pregnancy, the Hospital Center launched the Teen Alliance for Prepared Parenting (TAPP) Program in 1998. The program has earned national recognition for its success rates, and was featured in the prestigious Chronicle of Philanthropy in 2007 . (40)
MedStar Heart Institute performs more aortic dissections and repairs; mitral valve repairs; off-pump (beating-heart) cardiac surgeries; vascular surgeries; and peripheral vascular interventions than any other hospital in the region.
Washington Hospital Center's Emergency Department handles more patient visits than any other hospital in the region: more than 77,000 in FY2007 alone.
Washington Hospital Center's softball team, made up of members of the medical staff as well as employees from administration, environmental services, nutrition services, nursing and many other departments, won the City Championship in 1967.
Washington Hospital Center has a national reputation as a leader in cardiovascular, cancer, endocrine, emergency, trauma, burn and stroke care.
A teaching institution, Washington Hospital Center has affiliations with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; Catholic, George Washington, Georgetown, Howard and Johns Hopkins universities; the National Institutes of Health; the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
To mark Washington Hospital Center's 10 th anniversary, staff members were treated to a 650-pound cake, made in the shape of the building.
During its first year of operation, Washington Hospital Center had 546 full-time employees. Fifty years later, its roster reached nearly 6,100.
The Women's Auxiliary launched the Gifts and Grants Program in 1973 to support all departments of Washington Hospital Center. To date, the Auxiliary has distributed more than $12 million hospital-wide, including a $1.4 million endowment to the MedStar Health Research Institute.
In 1973, 22 of 189 residents at the Hospital Center were women; three of the 46 interns were female. In 2008, the ratio has changed dramatically. Out of 300 residents, 156 are women and 144 are men.
In 2008, a new unit of the ED opened, designed to both reduce the risk of spreading infections and to handle a surge of patients in a mass casualty event. This marked the first time concepts for ER One , a future all-risks-ready emergency care facility, were used in a patient setting.
The Hospital Center has sponsored the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo every year since its inception in 1993. Held at the Convention Center, the Expo has grown each year, and in 2008 drew a record 85,000 visitors. In 15 years, the hospital has provided screenings and education to tens of thousands of people.
In 1989, the Hospital Center campus served as the location for the filming of “A Man Called Hawk,” a spin-off of the popular TV series, “Spenser for Hire.”
The hospital's courtyard is named for Joan Lamphere, Women's Auxiliary president from 1982 to 1986; the ICU Tower is named for Richard Loughery, the hospital's president from 1959 to 1981; and the POB II atrium is named for Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE, former hospital president (1990 to 2000) and now President and CEO of MedStar Health.