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The Western Pennsylvania Hospital
4800 Friendship Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
412.578.5000

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West Penn Hospital

History

 

 

Since its incorporation in 1848 as Pittsburgh's first chartered public hospital, West Penn Hospital has had a rich history of leadership and innovation in medicine -- expanding its services and enhancing its technological capabilities to provide high-quality care to patients, educate healthcare professionals, and conduct research.

West Penn Hospital has taken care of the people of Pittsburgh through floods and flu epidemics, through wars and depression, and through the 20th century's industrial prosperity and spirit of renaissance.

In the 21st century, West Penn Hospital remains an academic medical center that provides the highest quality of health care and service to our patients and a leader in the field of healthcare education.

 

West Penn Hospital is the first hospital in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania to achieve Magnet™ recognition status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a worldwide recognition for excellence in nursing that has been earned by only about 6% of US healthcare organizations.

 

Founding of the Hospital

During the mid 1840s Pittsburgh was a bustling community of 40,000 serving as a portal to the west. In 1844 Dorothea Dix, a well-known philanthropist and crusader, wrote a scathing report to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the city's shocking state of health conditions and complete lack of institutional facilities.

The outraged citizens held public meetings and three years later decreed that a non-sectarian hospital would be built to serve the physically and mentally afflicted in the western part of the state. They agreed on the name The Western Pennsylvania Hospital and construction began the following year.


Growth and Expansion

West Penn Hospital was one of the nation's pioneer hospitals, and among the first 50 hospitals in the United States.

Over the years West Penn Hospital has changed to meet the needs of the city and its people while maintaining a leadership position in medicine and health care.

In 1912, the expanding needs of patients and staff led the hospital to relocate from its first site on the banks of the Allegheny River in the Polish Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh to its present location on Friendship Avenue in Pittsburgh's East End neighborhood of Bloomfield.


Our History of Firsts

West Penn Hospital was the first in the area to serve the nation and the region in the Civil War. It was commissioned by the U.S. Army to serve as a military hospital during the war (in 1863) and as a 'Soldiers Home' after the Civil War. West Penn physicians and nurses formed military units that served in the battle fronts of World Wars I and II.

West Penn Hospital was the first in the area to sponsor a medical college (1883; now the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine).

In the 20th century, West Penn Hospital was the first in Pittsburgh to open an intensive care unit (1959); first to perform a bone marrow transplant (1967); first hospital in Pittsburgh to build a heliport (1971); first to open a center dedicated exclusively to breast diagnostic imaging (1985); and the first hospital in Pittsburgh totally dedicated to patient-focused care (1995).

In 2006, West Penn Hospital was the first hospital in PIttsburgh and western Pennsylvania to achieve Magnet Recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for excellence in nursing services.

On Sept. 14, 2012, West Penn Hospital became the first hospital in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania to earn Magnet redesignation.

 


West Penn Hospital Today

West Penn Hospital has become known for its state-of-the-art treatment programs for burns, cancer, and diabetes.  West Penn Burn Center is the first and only one in the region verified by the American Burn Association/American College of Surgeons and treats many hundreds of patients a year from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The Bone Marrow/ Cell Transplant Program is among the first to achieve Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) accreditation.  The Joslin Diabetes Center at West Penn is an affiliate of the renowned Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

West Penn Hospital provides comprehensive healthcare services for women, infants, and children, including a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Transport Team that admits hundreds of critically ill newborns from the tristate region.

The Rehabilitation Unit at West Penn Hospital provides 24-hour nursing care and state-of-the-art diagnostic testing and treatment services to adults of all ages for a wide range of conditions, including strokes; brain or spinal cord injury; neurological disorders (including deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease); joint replacement or orthopaedic injury such as fractures; multiple trauma; amputation; organ transplant (single or multi-organ); cardiac surgery; congenital deformity; or general debility.

In 2012, West Penn Hospital completely renovated its Emergency Department and extensively upgraded it Medical Patient Care and Surgical Patient Care units to provide the latest technology for patient care and comfort in beautiful private rooms.

West Penn Hospital offers a highly acclaimed bariatric surgery program and numerous specialized outpatient centers and services, including the following:

  • Ambulatory Surgery Center to care for those undergoing outpatient surgery
  • Anticoagulation Management Center
  • Breast Diagnostic Imaging Center
  • Burn Outpatient Clinic
  • Cancer Services
  • Cardiac Diagnostics, such as echocardiology ('echo') and electrocardiology (EKG)
  • Clinical Laboratory Services, including blood tests
  • Digestive Diagnostic and Treatment Center (GI Lab)
  • Emergency Department (staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, including 128-slice computed tomography (CT)
  • Foot and Ankle Institute
  • Hemostasis and Thrombosis Program
  • Institute for Pain Medicine
  • Joslin Diabetes Center
  • Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine
  • Lupus Center of Excellence
  • Medical Short Stay Center
  • Neurodiagnostic Services, including electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG)
  • Pediatric Outpatient Services, including blood tests
  • Physical Therapy
  • Pulmonary/Respiratory Care Services, including Pulmonary Function Lab and Pulmonary Outpatient Rehabilitation Program
  • Radiation Oncology/ Radiation Therapy (cancer treatment)
  • Radiology diagnostic imaging, including computed tomography (CT), DEXA bone density testing, fluoroscopy, general x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine imaging, nuclear cardiology testing, positron emission tomography (PET), and ultrasound
  • Radiology imaging for procedures performed by inserting a catheter into a blood vessel
  • Sleep Disorder Center
  • Women's and Infants' Services, including:
    • Childbirth Education
    • Infant Apnea Center
    • Infertility - Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine
    • Lactation Services
    • Maternal Child Outreach Coordinator
    • Neonatal ICU Transport Team
    • Neonatal ICU Developmental Follow-up Program
    • Pediatric View (Cortical Visual Impairment) Program
    • Reproductive Genetics/ Genetic Counseling
    • Urinary Incontinence Program

West Penn Hospital remains a leader in the education of healthcare professionals. It provides clinical education to medical students, including Temple University School of Medicine students who choose to complete their third and fourth years in Pittsburgh, and sponsors graduate medical education programs as part of the Allegheny General Hospital - Western Pennsylvania Hospital Medical Education Consortium.

The Western Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing, founded in 1892, offers a 22-month RN Diploma program that is articulated on-site with Clarion University of Pennsylvania for optional continuation for the BSN degree.

The Western Pennsylvania Hospital/ Indiana University School of Respiratory Care is a leader in the field of academic/clinical partnerships for the BS in Respiratory Therapy degree.

West Penn Hospital also serves as a clinical site for numerous radiologic technology associate degree programs.

Building on its 150 year history as a regional and national leader in health care and education, West Penn Hospital is proud of its past achievements and is focused on continuing to provide the highest quality of health care and service into the future.

Click here to see our Chronology of Firsts.

 

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