Medical care is not something to be taken for granted. Just as Pittsburgh’s reputation is turning from smoke and steel to one of a leader in robotics and high tech industries, so too is the City of Champions gaining a new eminence in the field of medicine.
Today, Pittsburgh’s hospitals boast highly trained physicians, the latest medical procedures and treatment research, and the most up-to-date facilities and technology. Many have to travel to seek this kind of distinguished care but those of Pittsburgh, PA, have it right at their fingertips with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers (UPMC) and the West Penn Allegheny Health Systems (WPAHS).
Both of these health providers have developed and progressed over the years to become what they are today. Separate facilities have been combined and others have been newly created in many areas surrounding the city. From hospitals and cancer centers to surgical facilities and rehabilitation units, Pittsburgh offers a wealth of medical expertise that could never have been imagined 50 years ago.
Even so, Pittsburgh’s medical traditions run deep. In 1777, Hand’s Hospital, the nation’s first federal hospital was erected by General Edward Hand to care for troops at Fort Pitt. According to Arthur M. Fording’s Recollections and Reminiscences of the West End, ‘It was about 100 feet long and 30 feet wide, two stories high, with a porch extending entirely around it. There were two doors, one on either side but no windows, and two partitions divided it into three rooms above and below. Several block houses surrounded it at some distance, probably a half dozen or more.’ Unfortunately, nothing of Hand’s Hospital remains today, but what has passed down through the years is Pittsburgh’s spirit of innovation and reinvention in all things.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers (UPMC)
Let’s start our exploration of Pittsburgh’s hospitals in the Oakland area, the headquarters for UPMC. Here lie several of the main components of the hospitals that UPMC oversees including:
- The Eye & Ear Institute
- Magee-Women’s Hospital
- Presbyterian Hospital
- Montefiore Hospital
- Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
- Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
The Eye & Ear Institute
The Eye & Ear Institute is one of a few centers in the nation dedicated entirely to the management of problems related to otolaryngology and ophthalmology.
Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC recognizes the role gender plays in the treatment and prevention of disease. Magee is one of the original six National Centers of Excellence in Women’s Health as designated by the U.S. Department of Health.
UPMC Presbyterian is a renowned center for numerous medical specialties, including organ transplantation, cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, critical care medicine and trauma services, and neurology. It is also a site of leading clinical research and graduate medical programs in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Montefiore Hospital offers a Comprehensive Lung Center, the Benedum Geriatric Center, and a Facial Nerve Center, along with many other state-of-the-art services, including transplantations.
The Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
The Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic is the leading hospital of its kind offering services to children, adolescents, adult, and geriatric patients.
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One of the most highly accomplished parts of the UPMC system is the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, located in the Lawrenceville area of Pittsburgh, is the only hospital in western Pennsylvania devoted solely to the care of infants, children, and young adults. It is committed to serving the 500,000 patients it receives each year and has been named as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
Children’s Hospital was located originally in Oakland, but on May 2, 2009, it officially opened its new 10-acre campus in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. The redesign came from input from physicians, nurses, and families. Now there are spacious, private rooms designed with children in mind, enhanced research facilities designed to maximize efficiency in patient care, and the largest family resource center in the world.
UPMC – Leading Health System in the US
UPMC is a global health enterprise and is one of the leading health systems in the United States. It serves more than four million people a year and is the largest employer of Western Pennsylvania with about 50,000 employees. Its partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences has allowed it to develop internationally renowned programs in transplantation, cancer, neurosurgery, psychiatry, orthopedics, and sports medicine.
UPMC’s success begins with the goal of striving for innovation. For the future, UPMC has invested in information technology so that all medical records can be accessed electronically across all of its hospitals. UPMC has also has invested in research in new fields such as regenerative medicine and biosecurity.
Despite all of its success, the multibillion dollar company started out with humble beginnings. It began with one hospital on the North Side of Pittsburgh – Presbyterian Hospital. Then in 1927 it formally became affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh and then eventually the Eye & Ear Hospital a few years later. They constructed buildings on Fifth Avenue in Oakland and by 1961 the organization was known as Presbyterian-University Hospital. Four years later, it combined and incorporated with the Falk Clinic, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, and Magee-Women’s Hospital to become the University Health Center of Pittsburgh. Then in the early 1970s Dr. Thomas Detre began forging the hospital ahead with reorganization. This reorganization became even more successful when Mr. Jeffrey Romoff became the new UPMC president in 1992. Since that time the organization has blossomed and combined with other leading hospitals in the area to give a comprehensive and cutting edge medical experience for local and national patients.
While we have mentioned only a few, the UPMC family of hospitals is quite large and includes facilities serving patients far beyond Allegheny County. There is even a UPMC hospital located in Palermo, Sicily, serving the region of Sicily and the Mediterranean.
West Penn Allegheny Health Systems (WPAHS)
While the resources of UPMC are broad and all-encompassing, the residents of Pittsburgh benefit from the exceptional competition provided by the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS).
Allegheny General, West Penn Hospital,
and Four Community Hospitals
WPAHS is comprised of some of the oldest and best-known names in health care in western Pennsylvania. The two main hospitals in Pittsburgh include Allegheny General Hospital that was founded in 1885 and the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, which was founded in 1848 as Pittsburgh’s first chartered public hospital.
Both hospitals are known for their excellence in care for patients, medical education, and research. In addition WPAHS has four community hospitals. These hospitals include the Alle-Kiski Medical Center in Natrona Heights; Canonsburg General Hospital in Canonsburg; The Western Pennsylvania Hospital – Forbes Regional Campus in Monroeville; and Allegheny General Hospital – Suburban Campus in Bellevue. The WPAHS system is smaller than UPMC but it is among the leaders in percentages of total surgeries, cardiac surgeries, neurosurgeries and cardiac catheterization procedures performed throughout the region. WPAHS employs about 13,000 employees and admits nearly 79,000 patients per year.
WPAHS has won numerous awards and is committed to training health care professionals. The Western Pennsylvania Hospital is the first hospital in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania to achieve Magnet recognition status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Magnet designation is a worldwide recognition for excellence in nursing. In addition, Allegheny General was named in the top 100 hospitals for cardiovascular care and in the top 100 of the country’s performance improvement leaders and has a premium cardiac specialty center. It is currently studying new technology for treatment of heart failure.
Because WPAHS is committed to education, the system has two clinical campuses: Allegheny General Hospital serves as the clinical campus for the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and The Western Pennsylvania Hospital serves as the clinical campus for Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
City of Medical Champions
Today, along with its many sports and technological achievements, Pittsburgh can proudly proclaim itself a ‘City of Medical Champions.’ Whatever medical need the people of Western Pennsylvania or its surrounding areas may require, the answer can be found in Pittsburgh’s remarkable medical facilities, where the level of care, experience, knowledge, and cutting edge research is just one more aspect of our great city now receiving the national and international attention it deserves.