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About Philadelphia

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About Pennsylvania Hospital


Pennsylvania Hospital is a voluntary not-for-profit teaching institution located in Philadelphia's historic Society Hill area. Founded by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond in 1751, the hospital today is a 505-bed medical complex in Center City Philadelphia.

The hospital is the first choice for many students because of its exceptional faculty combined with a training environment that serves a diverse population of varied socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, there are research opportunities available, primarily clinical, in which residents can collaborate on ongoing projects or, under preceptorship of an attending physician, initiate their own projects.

Pennsylvania Hospital has played an important role in the expanding legacy of healthcare in this country and around the world. Below are just a few highlights of the hospital's history:

  • By 1762, just 11 years after its founding, Pennsylvania Hospital became the principal clinical teaching center in Philadelphia.
  • A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, joined the hospital staff in 1783 where he served as a medical teacher and social reformer and came to be known as the "father of American psychiatry."
  • Philip Syng Physick, MD, was appointed to the staff in 1794 and served until 1816. He achieved fame through his surgical prowess and his inventions. He became known as the "father of American surgery."
  • In the early 1800s Pennsylvania Hospital continued to grow in stature and size, implementing many new services, including the first surgical amphitheater in the colonies.
  • In 1835 the new medical library became the first, largest and most important storehouse of medical information of its time. The historic library continues to serve today as a repository for the hospital's archive collection and as the meeting place of the Board of Managers.
  • One of the treasured books among the 13,000 volumes in the Historic Library is a copy of Vesalius' study of human anatomy published in 1555. There is also a book published in 1534 that discusses the work of Galen, the classical authority on medicine, as well as many valuable books printed before 1501.
  • By 1917, Pennsylvania Hospital was at the forefront of the first hospital service units established in World War I, treating more than 48,000 patients during 18 months.
  • In 1927, the hospital opened a new outpatient department signaling a new approach to better health through prevention.
  • A Women's Building, which opened in 1929, was considered to be one of the most innovative approaches to women's care in the country.
  • In 1970, The Rothman Institute was established and the first sterile "greenhouse" for orthopedic surgery in Philadelphia was opened. Since that time, more than 10,000 joint replacements have been performed at Pennsylvania Hospital.
  • At the forefront of cancer care in the region, the hospital founded its Hospice Program in 1979. The program was the first in the area to offer a complete range of services.
  • The Adult Day Health Center, opened in 1986, was the first hospital-based facility of its kind in Philadelphia. The Center links the broad range of services for older adults at Pennsylvania Hospital.
  • More babies are born at Pennsylvania Hospital than any facility in eastern Pennsylvania.


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