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AHN West Penn Hospital Celebrates 175th Anniversary
PITTSBURGH – Allegheny Health Network (AHN) will begin celebrations this week to commemorate the 175th anniversary of West Penn Hospital, a landmark institution that has served patients throughout the western Pennsylvania region for nearly two centuries.
West Penn is the network’s oldest hospital and was one of the first hospitals established in the region. Founded on March 18, 1848, West Penn was Pittsburgh’s first publicly chartered nonsectarian hospital, and in its early years, it treated many patients who were injured by industrial accidents in Pittsburgh’s mills and rail yards.
The hospital also played a pivotal role in the American Civil War, serving as a triage center for Union forces after being commandeered by the United States government. By the end of the Civil War, approximately 3,000 soldiers had been treated at West Penn.
“West Penn Hospital has deep roots in the greater Pittsburgh community, and a rich history of providing exceptional care to the millions who have called this region home over the past 175 years,” said David Holmberg, President of Highmark Health. “One of the first steps we took on our journey to create a world-class healthcare provider system in western PA was to make significant investments in West Penn. Everyday our grateful patients and the amazing professionals at the hospital who care for them remind us of how important that decision was.”
Located on Friendship Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood, the 356-bed hospital includes an emergency department; obstetric care and advanced gynecological surgery; a Level III neonatal intensive care unit; a burn trauma center; an extended-hours oncology clinic featuring innovative cancer treatments; and dozens of other services.
Additionally, West Penn’s one-of-a-kind Autoimmunity Institute, its Alexis Joy D'Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health, its stem-cell transplant program, its AHN Comprehensive Hypertension Center, and its leading-edge Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) program draw patients from across the state and country. Meanwhile, West Penn’s labor and delivery unit is one of the busiest in Pennsylvania, delivering around 4,000 babies a year.
The original West Penn Hospital was built in Polish Hill, overlooking the Strip District. The current facility opened in 1912 after moving from its original location. Since then, West Penn has added several new structures on its campus, including a nursing school, Mellon Pavilion, the East Tower, and finally, a patient care tower that opened in the 1990s.
“Western Pennsylvania is fortunate to have access to the exceptional health services offered by AHN’s West Penn Hospital,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “As this region has transitioned to an ‘eds-and-meds’ economy over the last few decades, Allegheny County has become a premier destination for both patients and medical professionals. Institutions like West Penn Hospital have helped to lead that transformation by establishing renowned clinical programs, leading innovative research, and educating the next generation of doctors and clinicians.”
West Penn has received numerous accolades over the years. In 2022, it was named the region’s top hospital and one of the Nation’s Top 50 best hospitals for OB-GYN care by U.S. News & World Report. West Penn was also recently named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. – and one of the nation’s top 25 teaching hospitals – by IBM Watson Health.
West Penn was the first hospital in southwestern Pennsylvania to receive the American Nurses Credentialing Center's prestigious Magnet Recognition Program award for nursing excellence in 2006. It is also the first in the region to be re-designated a Magnet hospital for a fourth consecutive time earlier this year.
“West Penn Hospital has been a wonderful neighbor to the residents of Bloomfield and surrounding communities for generations,” said Christina Howell, executive director of the Bloomfield Development Corporation. “We are incredibly proud to have such a vital institution, right here in the heart of our neighborhood, that provides convenient access to high-quality health care. The Bloomfield Development Corporation wishes West Penn Hospital a happy anniversary and well-wishes for the next 175 years.”
West Penn’s future is bright today, but that wasn’t the case when the hospital’s emergency department closed in January 2011. Just 13 months later, West Penn’s emergency department reopened, and other essential services were also restored, thanks to Highmark Health’s historic affiliation with AHN. Next month, AHN and Highmark Health will celebrate their 10th anniversary and the many additional significant investments that have been made in West Penn, and across the network’s footprint, over the past decade to advance their high-value, high-quality “Living Health” care model.
“It’s hard to imagine where West Penn would be today without Highmark Health’s vision and commitment to such an indispensable community asset,” said Brian Johnson, MD, West Penn Hospital President. “Our clinical programs and caregivers have received international recognition over the last decade for the outstanding care we provide to our thousands of patients. We are proud of the incredible progress West Penn has made in recent years, and we look forward to building upon that success, and our 175-year legacy of clinical excellence, in the future.”
To commemorate the anniversary, West Penn will hold various internal events for staff throughout the year, and a social media campaign to celebrate the history of the facility will be featured on AHN’s various platforms.
West Penn’s 175th anniversary shares the date with the City of Pittsburgh’s incorporation on March 18, 1816.
To learn more about West Penn Hospital, visit https://www.ahn.org/locations/hospitals/west-penn.