UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS CASE MEDICAL CENTER, based in UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, is a nonprofit academic medical center comprised of a group of health care facilities with historic ties to CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY. The region's first multi-hospital system, University Hospitals of Cleveland was formally established in 1925 under the leadership of Dr. Robert H. Bishop, of Western Reserve Medical School, and SAMUEL MATHER, although the incorporated institutions—Lakeside Hospital, Maternity Hospital, Babies and Children's Hospital, and Rainbow Hospital—began collaborating their research and medical services earlier, at the turn of the century.

Lakeside Hospital, the oldest in the UHC system, originated with the Ladies Aid Society of the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (OLD STONE), which operated a "Home for the Friendless" to assist refugees displaced by the Civil War. Seeing the need for a permanent hospital to care for Cleveland's poor, a group of civic leaders and Old Stone Church parishioners formed the Cleveland City Hospital Society in May 1866. Jacob Perkins was elected the first president, and the society's first hospital opened in 1868 in a house on Wilson Street (later Davenport Street), hence the name "Wilson Street Hospital." Both allopathic and homeopathic physicians practiced at the facility until the homeopathic physicians' interests and assets were purchased by one of Lakeside's major benefactors, HINMAN HURLBUT, and then were shifted to the reorganized Cleveland City Hospital Association. By 1875 the Wilson Street hospital had outgrown its home and was relocated to the Marine Hospital facility at East 9th and Lakeside Avenue, which the trustees leased from the federal government for 20 years (1876-96). The lease stipulated that the hospital would care for American sailors and merchant seamen with noncontagious diseases for the sum of 64 cents per day. When the City of Cleveland decided to build its own hospital (City Hospital) in 1888, the name was changed to Lakeside Hospital to avoid confusion. A voluntary Board of Managers (mostly women) oversaw its daily operations and management in conjunction with a full-time matron and staff. In 1899, Samuel Mather began a long tenure (1899-1931) as president and chairman of the Board of Trustees at Lakeside Hospital.

Medical students from the Medical Department of Western Reserve University used Lakeside as part of their educational experience and training. In 1895, the hospital signed an exclusive affiliation agreement with Western Reserve, confirming its own capabilities in medical instruction. About the same time, construction began on a new Lakeside Hospital, modeled after the pioneering pavilion design of Johns Hopkins University Hospital. The new building (Lakeside Avenue and East 13th Street) contained 250 beds and opened in 1898. The same year, the Lakeside Training School for Nurses was formally established, which would create the nation's first program in nurse anesthesia in 1911 under the leadership of AGATHA HODGINS. In 1917 the American Dietetic Association was founded at Lakeside, with Lulu Graves, the hospital's head dietician, as its first president. In 1920 Lakes established a Department of Social Work and a formal Volunteer Department. The nursing school closed in 1924, superseded by the Western Reserve University School for Nurses (later renamed Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing).

Dr. William H. Weir established a flourishing gynecological service at Lakeside in the early 1900s. The hospital began offering home deliveries to charity patients in 1906, through a service organized by Dr. Arthur H. Bill, of Maternity Hospital and carried out under the auspices of the Western Reserve University Medical School. In 1909 a house was rented at 2509 East 35th Street as headquarters for this service, which received the independent title Maternity Dispensary of Lakeside Hospital and Western Reserve University by formal agreement in 1917.

Before the American entry into World War I, in 1915, Lakeside Hospital sent a voluntary surgical team headed by chief anesthetist Dr. GEORGE CRILE to the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris. Two years later, another Lakeside medical unit (LAKESIDE UNIT, WORLD WAR I) was sent under the leadership of Crile to Rouen, France. This unit, known as Base Hospital No. 4, arrived in Rouen on May 25, 1917, to provide medical care for Allied soldiers and was the first American military unit in Europe during the war.

Maternity Home, another institution to merge into UHC in 1925, originated with the Maternity Home of Cleveland Association, which opened a hospital in a house at 58 Huron Street in 1891. The facility was incorporated a year later as the Maternity Hospital of Cleveland. It moved to 134 East Prospect Street in 1898, then to 2364 East 55th Street in 1906, and finally to 3735 Cedar Avenue in 1912. Like Lakeside, Maternity Hospital depended on private donations, subscriptions, and philanthropy. It accepted both indigent and pay patients although, in practice, there were few paying patients as wealthier women preferred to deliver their babies at home. Maternity Hospital maintained its own system of 8 prenatal clinics throughout the city to serve charity patients, also contributing to the outpatient dispensary program developed by Lakeside Hospital and the Western Reserve University Medical School in the 1910s. In 1923 a joint campaign with Babies and Children's Hospital began fundraising for the construction of a new Maternity Hospital in University Circle, which opened in December 1925.

Further on the city's east side the Babies and Children's Dispensary, established in 1906, joined Rainbow Hospital for Crippled and Convalescent Children and Lakeside Hospital in providing medical care for impoverished children. In 1887, a group of nine young society women formed a national sisterhood whose mission was "a perfect determination to relieve suffering." Calling themselves the Rainbow Circle of King's Daughters, the young women raised money for Rainbow Cottage, where sick children could convalesce. Rainbow Cottage was opened in 1891 for the summer at the north end of Doan Street (East 105th Street) overlooking Lake Erie. In 1896 Rainbow Cottage was incorporated and remained open all year round. In 1900 Mrs. William L. Harkness gave $25,000 for the construction of a 3-story brick cottage on Mayfield Road in South Euclid. When this building was destroyed by a fire in 1904, another site, Novak Villa, was leased on Green Road in 1905. Rainbow eventually limited admissions to convalescent children with surgical histories to avoid duplication of efforts by other local agencies. In 1914 Rainbow Cottage changed its name to Rainbow Hospital for Crippled and Convalescent Children. The Hospital took in children with bone infections, rickets, poliomyelitis, and rheumatic fever as well as other crippling diseases and illnesses. A nursery school, one of the first ever established in association with a hospital, was opened in 1923. In 1926 Rainbow Hospital joined UHC, although it retained its own Board of Trustees even after the 1940 merger of the boards of Lakeside, Maternity, and Babies and Children's hospitals under UHC.

Babies and Children's Hospital originated in 1906 when a group comprising Dr. John Lowman, a Lakeside Hospital physician; the Milk Fund Association; the Visiting Nurse Association; Dr. Edward F. Cushing, then physician to the children's department at Lakeside Hospital; and various community leaders came together to establish an Infants' Clinic (located at the Central Friendly Inn). The clinic was incorporated the following year as the Babies Dispensary and Hospital. With the opening of a new building at 2500 East 35th Street in 1911, Babies Dispensary and Hospital concentrated on the care of sick babies while other children's care was provided by a network of branch clinics. In 1915 a synthetic infant formula known as SMA was developed at Babies Dispensary by DR. HENRY J. GERSTENBERGER, Dr. Harold Ruh, and William Frohring.

The formal merger of these institutions into University Hospitals of Cleveland in 1925 was accompanied by the building of many facilities in University Circle, including new hospitals and a new School of Medicine and Institute of Pathology (1929). After a fundraising drive instated in the early 1920s, Babies Dispensary and Hospital (now Babies and Children's Hospital) merged with Maternity Hospital and relocated to the Circle to join UHC. A capital campaign led by Dr. Robert Bishop financed the new School of Medicine, raising over $6 million and also providing Rainbow with a completely new hospital on Green Road in South Euclid (1928). The campaign received large donations from Samuel Mather, Edward Harkness and the Hanna family. In 1931 a new Lakeside Hospital and the LEONARD C. HANNA, JR. House (known as Hanna House) were dedicated at the University Circle location. While serving as assistant administrator of University Hospitals in the early 1930s, JOHN R. MANNIX developed a system of inclusive rates for financing hospitalization later used as the model for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans.

During the Depression the Maternity Hospital system closed and patients were cared for in Lakeside Hospital. In 1936 Maternity Hospital was renamed MacDonald House in honor of its long-time superintendent, nurse CALVINA MACDONALD. (In 1990 the facility became University MacDonald Women's Hospital.) Upon U.S. entry into World War II, the Lakeside Unit was reactivated as part of the Fourth General Hospital (1942-45) and assigned to Melbourne, Australia, and Finschaffen, New Guinea. At the end of World War II and with a new dean of the School of Medicine at Western Reserve University,JOSEPH T. WEARN, UHC actively participated and financed a large portion of the development and implementation of a new curriculum in medical education, the first major revision in medical education in the U.S. after World War II.

The post-World War II period saw another major expansion in programs, services, and facilities at UHC's University Circle location. The Howard M. Hanna Pavilion was opened in 1956 for the care of psychiatric patients. BENJAMIN ROSE HOSPITAL, established in 1953 on Abington Road, became a member of UHC, although it continued to be overseen by its own Board of Trustees and the BENJAMIN ROSE INSTITUTE. The geriatric hospital, one of the first in the country, had been established in 1953 as part of the Benjamin Rose Institute's mission to assist the elderly, and specialized in geriatric care and rehabilitation. University Hospitals assumed total responsibility for the hospital in 1969, at which time its name was changed to Abington House. It was converted into office space in 1983, and later demolished in 1990 to make room for Mather Pavilion and Lerner Tower, both of which were completed in 1994.

One of the nation's first research centers on cystic fibrosis was established by Dr. Leroy Matthews at Babies and Children's Hospital in 1957, which became the model for other cystic fibrosis research centers and treatment facilities around the country. In 1962 the Joseph T. Wearn Laboratory for Medical Research was dedicated. The Robert H. Bishop, Jr. Building, housing operating rooms, radiology services and a new cafeteria was opened in 1967. In 1971 a new children's hospital was built at the UH campus to merge Babies and Children's Hospital and Rainbow Hospital (moved from its Green Road location), and this combined facility received new additions in 1985. Other expansions of the UHC complex in the 1970s and 1980s included the Mabel Andrews Wing of the Institute of Pathology (1972), the George M. Humphrey Building (1978), and the Harry J. Bolwell Health Center (1986) for ambulatory care.

In 1987 University Hospitals Health System, Inc, was established, including UHC, LAKEWOOD HOSPITAL, MARYMOUNT HOSPITAL, Lorain Community Hospital, DEACONESS HOSPITAL OF CLEVELAND, Lake Hospital System, and Geauga Hospital. This network was then effectively superseded by the University Hospital Health System (UHHS) in 1994, committing UHC to further geographical expansion as well as a broadening of services to include "prevention, primary care, and early screening." UHHS included UHC, UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS HEALTH SYSTEM BEDFORD MEDICAL CENTER (1993), University Mednet (1987), Geauga Hospital (1995), a broad range of ambulatory centers (e.g. University Suburban Health Center, University Tower City and Landerbrook), elder health centers (Fairhill Institute for the Elderly), home care services, and the Qualchoice Health Plan (1995). On December 6, 1994, ground was broken for a new, state-of-the art treatment and care facility for children and their families, the Leonard and Joan Horvitz Tower at Rainbow, which was completed in 1997. The Ireland Cancer Center at UHC attained the National Cancer Institute's highest certification as a comprehensive cancer care center in 1998, making it one of fewer than 35 such institutions in the country.

In early 2006 University Hospital Health System announced plans for a multi-billion dollar investment in new medical facilities and technology upgrades over a five-year period. At this time UHC and its affiliated parts of Case Western Reserve University—together, now termed the University Hospitals Case Medical Complex (UHCMC)—represented the largest biomedical research center in Ohio, including a 947-bed academic medical facility with over 1,200 faculty and 6,000 patient and support staff. The larger UHHS network maintained over 25,000 physicians and general workers, constituting one of the top five largest private sector employers in the state. In 2005 UHHS treated over 3 million outpatients and 110,000 inpatients. As of 2021, the president and CEO of UHHS was Cliff A. Megerian, MD, FACS.

Cleveland Historical Logo

View more on Cleveland Historical


Article Categories