UPMC, Mercy: A chronology

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MERCY: 1831-2006

Dec. 12, 1831
Catherine McAuley establishes order of Our Lady of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland.

The Rev. Michael O'Connor of Cork, Ireland, who is named Pittsburgh's first Roman Catholic bishop in August, enlists seven sisters of the order. Led by Mother Frances Warde, they arrive in Pittsburgh Dec. 21.

Jan. 1, 1847
They open Mercy Hospital, the first hospital west of the Alleghenies, in a building known as the Concert Hall, at Sixth Street and Penn Avenue, with space for about 20 patients.

May 9, 1848
Mercy Hospital opens a three-story building on Stevenson Street. It can accommodate 60 patients. No one is denied treatment. Doctors agree to work alternate three-month terms without pay.

By February, more than a thousand patients are treated.
• The first surgery patient, injured in a railroad accident, is treated in 1853.
•An isolation ward is opened in 1854. That year, the bishop legally transfers title of the hospital to the Sisters of Mercy. Smallpox and cholera are common.

More than 14,000 patients are treated by 1882.
• The overcrowded hospital is incorporated.
• An addition adds 90 beds, a hydraulic elevator and fire escape. Within a decade, another addition is built.

Sister Magdalen Phelan establishes the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing.

Alcoholism accounts for 44 percent of patient admissions.

The Western Pennsylvania Medical College affiliates with Mercy Hospital. Expansion includes a surgical annex on Pride Street.

A nine-story South wing is built, giving the hospital a total of 670 beds.
• Of 6,000 patients treated, half paid nothing for their care and a quarter paid only partially.
• Spanish influenza of 1918 hits Pittsburgh, making 22,000 people sick and killing 4,500 in October and November.

Henry Clay Frick's estate makes a $1.4 million endowment. By 1920, Mercy has telephone service.

A $500,000 nine-story addition increases capacity.
• The hospital establishes the first blood bank in the region, among the first in the country.

The nursing school has the highest enrollment in the country, but its medical internship program declines.
• With Dr. Francis F. Foldes, an innovator in anesthesia, at the helm, Mercy physicians treat the first humans with the narcotic overdose treatment Narcan and with the muscle relaxant succinylcholine.
• Mercy is the largest hospital in a 250-mile radius, with 750 patient beds, 63 bassinets, 100 physicians, 1,000 staff and 50 nuns.
• Nearly 18,000 people are admitted annually and 23,000 outpatients are treated at no charge.

Mercy is the third hospital in the world to implant nuclear-powered pacemakers, and the first in the region to use ultrasound to detect tumors and aneurysms.
• A neonatal intensive care unit is established.

A 13-story tower, which holds two-thirds of the hospital's 608 beds, opens.

The seven-story Catherine McAuley wing opens.

Mercy is reorganized into Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, including the hospital and Pittsburgh Mercy Foundation.
• The original 1848 hospital, annexes and extensions are torn down.

Mercy cuts 129 of its 629 patient beds.

The health system adds Mercy Providence, later Mercy Hospital: North Shore Campus, and Mercy Jeannette.

Mercy joins the Catholic Health East system. Pittsburgh Mercy Health System encompasses two acute care campuses, five outpatient centers, 50 behavioral health locations, 800 physicians and 5,000 associates.

Mercy sells its psychiatric hospital on the North Side for $5.4 million to a Louisville, Ky., company and transfers its services to its Uptown flagship.

September 2006
Mercy Hospital and UPMC announce merger.

Correction/Clarification: (Published Sept. 22, 2006) An entry in this chronology as originally published Sept. 21, 2006 incorrectly suggested that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is acquiring Pittsburgh Mercy Health System. An agreement announced Sept. 20, 2006 would merge only Mercy Hospital and a network of physician practices owned by the hospital with UPMC.

UPMC: 1893-2006
1893: Five-room Louise Lyle Hospital is opened on the North Side; renamed Presbyterian Hospital in 1895.
1911: New six-story Presbyterian Hospital opens in West View Park.
1963: Woman?s Hospital and Magee Hospital combine.
1983: Presby opens world?s first Specialized Neurosurgical Center.
1990: Montefiore Hospital merges with Presbyterian to become a part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
1996: UPMC acquires South Side Hospital and Aliquippa Hospital.
1997: UPMC merges with St. Margaret Memorial Hospital near Aspinwall, and Shadyside and Passavant hospitals
2000: The UPMC Sports Performance Complex opens.
2001: Children?s Hospital of Pittsburgh agrees to merge with UPMC.
2002: Hillman Cancer Center opens.
2004: UPMC transplant facility opens in Palermo, Sicily.
2006: Mercy Hospital and UPMC announce merger. 

Source: "Pillar of Pittsburgh: the History of Mercy Hospital and the City it Serves"


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