Jefferson University Hospitals

History of Methodist Hospital

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Methodist Hospital traces its roots to Scott Stewart – a Methodist physician who lived at 8th and Pine Streets and was dedicated to serving the people of South Philadelphia.

He laid the financial foundation for Methodist Episcopal Hospital when, in drawing up his will in 1877, he designated $250,000 from his estate to be used to build a hospital in the city for the people of South Philadelphia. A graduate of Dublin University, Dr. Stewart also stipulated that a training school for nurses be set up to make certain that the Hospital would always have an adequate nursing staff.

Four years after his death, in 1881, the Hospital was incorporated and the Methodist Episcopal Church appointed a board of trustees. Ground was broken in 1888 and, in 1892, the Hospital and the Training School for Nurses began its legacy of service to the community.

Timeline of Key Events

1892-1913 - Methodist Episcopal Hospital (M.E.H.) opens in 1892. The Training School for nurses is established, and the first class of trained nurses graduates in 1894.

1914-1918 - Answering a call from the American Red Cross, Methodist Episcopal Hospital establishes a 250-bed field hospital in Brest, France. In 1917, the staff of Navy Base Hospital #5, headed by Directress of Nurses Alice Garrett, and comprised largely of Methodist Episcopal Hospital doctors and nurses, set sail on the S.S. St. Louis bound for Brest, France.

Even before the U.S. entered the War, three M.E.H. trained nurses board the Red Cross “Mercy Ship” in 1914 to care for wounded soldiers in France and Russia. Among them is Faye Fulton. Miss Fulton returns to establish the Hospital’s Anesthesia Department. She would become only the second woman nurse anesthetist in the United States at that time.

1919-1929 - After the War, the Hospital undergoes tremendous growth to keep up with the community’s needs. To be born properly in Philadelphia, you had to be born at M.E.H. Richard Norris, M.D., leading obstetrician in Philadelphia, brings most of his wealthy and socially prominent patients to M.E.H. including the DuPonts from Wilmington, Delaware.

1950s - In 1950, M.E.H. begins affiliation with Jefferson Medical College and agrees to make its ward facilities and staff available for clinical teaching; Jefferson provides additional house staff for M.E.H. Miss Richardson breaks the racial barriers as the first African American nurse to graduate from the School of Nursing in 1953. Planning begins in 1959 for a decade-long major building modernization for the Hospital.

1960-1975 - Gone are the Hospital’s oldest buildings, and with them, the elegant and elaborate architecture. In their place rise sleek, modern facilities, equipped to handle the latest technology and equipment. The current Medical Office Building is erected and construction completed on the emergency, outpatient, x-ray and pharmacy departments. With the “Baby Boom” still in full swing, the Hospital is busier than ever.

The Methodist Episcopal Hospital officially changes its name to Methodist Hospital in 1961. The Hospital participates in a citywide program to immunize citizens against polio, tetanus and whooping cough in 1965, the same year that the Medicare and Medicaid programs went into effect.

1976-1992 - As Methodist celebrates a century of service, the Hospital has grown into a multi-unit complex and evolved into a dynamic force in the neighborhood.

The School of Nursing graduates its first male students in 1979, breaking the gender barrier in a female-dominated profession. During the early 1980s, the Hospital implements a major construction program that includes a new surgical suite, an ICU, a Family Birth Center, CT and MRI imaging services and Healthmark. Our relationship with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is further strengthened through a preferred affiliation agreement in 1988.

1993-2006 – Entering a New Century. As the Hospital celebrates its 100 anniversary of service, planning for the future becomes a challenge. In 1996, Methodist Hospital becomes a Division of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

The closing of the Family Birth Center in 2002 is heartbreaking, but necessary. The community’s needs are growing and the Hospital becomes more creative in how it delivers services. There is expanded focus on community outreach to an increasingly diverse neighborhood. The Jefferson Shoulder and Elbow Center is established. The Women’s Diagnostic Center opens under the medical leadership of Dr. Lillian Stern. Today, both units continue to be regarded as “Centers of Excellence.”

St. Agnes Medical Center closes its acute care services in 2004. To meet increased patient demand, Methodist grows bed capacity to 204, including a new 12-bed Medical Intensive Care Unit and an expanded Emergency Department. The Hand and Sports Medicine surgical programs are established. The Methodist Nursing School transitions its nursing program to the Jefferson College of Health Professions. The last Methodist Nursing School class is graduated in 2006.