AKRON GENERAL HOSPITAL was incorporated on February 20, 1914 as the Peoples Hospital Company. At the time, Akron was one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. To meet an increasing demand for healthcare services, Dr.s W.W. Leondard, A.F. Sippy, and G.M. Logan imagined a new hospital that would be financed, owned, and patronized by the people of Akron. The doctors joined with leading Akron philanthropists, including the Sieberlings, Firestones, and Polskys, to establish the hospital.
Construction on the new hospital began in August 1914 and was completed on March 1, 1915. The building was located on West Cedar Street and had 125 beds. In 1916, a separate facility was added to house the hospital’s nurses. Despite high numbers of patients during these early years, the organization barely had enough revenue to cover its bills and relied heavily on donations of funds, volunteer hours, and medical supplies to stay afloat. Once the hospital achieved financial stability, it was able to expand its services further and become a leading provider of health care in Ohio.
In the 1923, the pathological laboratory in the Peoples Hospital was called one of the best in the state. That same year, an X-ray machine was procured for cancer treatment, and the hospital was classified as an Approved Hospital of the United States and Canada. The hospital added a maternity wing in 1924, and was incorporated as a non-profit institution in 1926.
In 1933, Eva P. Craig was appointed the superintendent of the Peoples Hospital, one of the first female executives of a public hospital in the United States. During her 25-year tenure, Craig saw the hospital through the Great Depression and into the modern era by reorganizing management, updating equipment, expanding services, and remodeling facilities. In 1953, the hospital broke ground on a 200-bed, $5-million expansion. The next year, Peoples Hospital changed its name to Akron General Hospital. Eva Craig retired from her position in 1957.
Between 1958 and 1962, a new research wing, service building, pharmacy, and ICU were added. In 1971, the name of the hospital was changed to the Akron General Medical Center. The next five years saw continued expansions, including new physician offices, a coronary care unit, an ambulatory care center, and a new parking deck. The 1980s saw a remodeling of the medical library, surgical waiting room, emergency suite, and pharmacy, and the Cancer Center was established in the 1990s.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, Akron General opened or acquired new facilities across the region in Bath, Lodi, Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, and Green. In 2013, Akron General entered talks to sell assets to Cleveland Clinic, but negotiations were ended when a deal could not be reached. The hospital celebrated its centennial in 2014. In December of that year, Dr. Tim Stover signed a contract that would retain him as the president and CEO of the hospital until 2017.
Jennifer Graham, Western Reserve Historical Society