History of The MetroHealth System
View the History of MetroHealth (3MB)

The MetroHealth & Cleveland Partnership (2.5MB)

Rammelkamp Center for
Education & Research Atrium (800 K)

MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland's first hospital, was founded in 1837 as City Hospital. From our inception to our status today as a world-class hospital system, MetroHealth has evolved to meet changing health care and social needs. Helping the community to achieve optimal health has been the goal of The MetroHealth System for generations.

On May 6, 1837, the Cleveland City Council designated a poorhouse as City Hospital and made provisions for inhabitants' medical care. With its establishment, City Hospital began its commitment to the relief of human suffering. City Hospital was located where East 14th Street meets Sumner Avenue. In 1855, the hospital, having outgrown its downtown location, moved to the Brooklyn Township Poorfarm on Scranton Road.

In 1887, construction began on a new City Hospital. The new hospital was a two-story brick structure with stone trim, built in accordance with the most recent achievements in medical science. The building featured modern accommodations and mirrored the scientific advancements in the field of medicine. City Hospital aspired to the most sophisticated care medicine could offer, a tradition which continues today.

In 1891, a group of twenty-eight (28) physicians and surgeons formed the first medical staff of City Hospital. Previously, private doctors provided medical care. During this time, the hospital became a training school for medical students.

In 1896, a British nurse, Caroline Kirkpatrick, became the first director of City Hospital's School of Nursing. Her nurse-training program was one of the most comprehensive by 1896 standards. The first class of eight graduated on September 1, 1898.

In 1914, the medical management of City Hospital became affiliated with the medical college at Western Reserve University, one of the nation's most respected medical schools.

In 1906, a two-story house opened on the Cooley Farms site in Warrensville Township. By 1913, it was known as Sunny Acres Tuberculosis Hospital. Later, Cooley Farms became Highland View Hospital, the facility dedicated to the needs of the disabled.

There was great progress at City Hospital under the leadership of Dudley S. Blossom, director of Public Welfare. After World War I, Blossom led a campaign to raise $3.5 million for the construction of a new City Hospital. In 1921, Blossom broke ground for the general hospital building and an addition to the nurses' residence.

During the Great Depression of the 1930's, a combination of poor shelter and lack of food and clothing contributed to an outbreak of tuberculosis. TB patients filled the beds of City Hospital for the next fifteen (15) years. Lowman Pavilion, named after Dr. John Lowman, a pioneer in tuberculosis treatment, was built on the grounds of City Hospital in 1933. It housed 352 TB patients. While City Hospital treated patients in the early stages of the disease, Sunny Acres served as a sanatorium for recovering, tuberculosis patients. Physicians at City Hospital were the first to conduct research and treatment of bone and joint tuberculosis.

In 1924, Margaret Wagner established the Social Services Department. The social workers were instrumental during the 1930's in helping patients make arrangements for their care upon discharge.

Polio preoccupied the medical community as it reached epidemic proportions in the 1940's and 1950'5. City Hospital's commitment to fighting the disease gained national recognition for research and treatment of polio. In 1954, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (polio) designated City Hospital as a national respiratory care center. The 100 beds in the contagious disease hospital were filled to capacity during those years, mostly with polio victims.

Dr. John Toomey, Director of Contagious Diseases, was one of the first physicians in the country to prescribe physical therapy for polio patients. City Hospital's reputation as a leading polio center was heightened when, in 1952, Dr. Frederick C. Robbins joined the staff as Director of Pediatrics and Contagious Diseases. Dr. Robbins was a pediatrician with strong research interest in infectious diseases. While in Boston in the late 1940's and 1950's,he and Drs. John Fenders and Thomas H. Weller developed techniques for growing the polio virus in test tubes. This work paved the way for Dr. Jonas Salk's development of the polio vaccine. In 1954, Dr. Robbins and his fellow researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work.

That same year, City Hospital ranked first among all the nation's hospitals in honors and awards. Included on the honor roll was Dr. Charles H. Rammelkamp, Director of Medicine, for his pioneering research into the use of penicillin and the link between strep throat and rheumatic heart disease.

In 1958, management of the hospital was transferred to Cuyahoga County and, with support from taxpayers, Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital was able to expand and improve services. Three major tax levies led to the construction of the Twin Towers, Core and South Buildings, and the expansion of the outpatient clinics.

Sunny Acres Tuberculosis Hospital joined the hospital system in 1972. The facility was completely renovated, creating a model complex for its new mission: long- term skilled nursing care. Today, the facility is known as MetroHealth Center for Skilled Nursing Care.

In the mid-1970's, the hospital built the Kenneth W Clement Center for Family Health Care. The facility absorbed the operations of the East 55nd Street Clinic, run by City Hospital since 1925. Located on East 79nd Street in the inner city, Clement Center provides family medical services to clients in their own neighborhood. The facility is now known as MetroHealth Clement Center For Community Health.

The 1970's and 1980's brought about many advancements in health care delivery. These included the establishment of the Burn Unit in 1970, which provides the most up-to-date specialized care to critically burned patients; the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in 1979; the Metro LifeFlight emergency helicopter transport service in 1982 (Metro LifeFlight is a regional aero medical transport service serving more than 50 hospitals in Northern Ohio); and the John A. Gannon Center for Burns and Trauma.

In 1988, the hospital gained national recognition for commitment to the community. MetroHealth had the honor of winning the 1988 Foster G. McGawprize. Awarded annually to one hospital in the country by The American Hospital Association and the Baxter Foundation, the prestigious prize is given to the hospital whose programs and services demonstrate it as "one with its community."

In 1989, the Cuyahoga County Hospital System became The MetroHealth System. The new name "MetroHealth" was developed to unite all the facilities, programs and services within the hospital system. The new identity program was designed to provide a simplified, unified, and consistent image of our hospital system to the communities we serve.

The MetroHealth System includes: MetroHealth Medical Center, MetroHealth Center for Rehabilitation, MetroHealth Center for Skilled Nursing Care East & West, MetroHealth Clement Center for Community Health, and various satellite offices (West Park, Strongsville, Brooklyn, Parma, and Westlake).

In 1991, MetroHealth Medical Center's Outpatient Plaza opened; it was the most significant addition ever to MetroHealth's main campus. The 250,000 square foot facility consists of four (4) pavilions where outpatient care is provided in the areas of rehabilitation, women's and children's services, specialty services, and cancer care. The plaza is primarily designed to accommodate the shift from inpatient to ambulatory care.

The MetroHealth System is a leader in women's and children's health, trauma, cancer research, treatment of brain disorders, heart disease, psychiatry and rehabilitation. Our more than 300 physicians are full-time employees of the hospital. They are also members of the faculty of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Our physicians are experts in their fields and train students from this prestigious school. Many physicians conduct research, advancing medical knowledge, while providing state-of -the-art treatments for patients. Patients visit their doctors, have x-rays and lab tests, or are referred to specialists in our modem outpatient facilities. Our distinctive twin towers and eight-story core building contain 742 inpatient beds in semi-private rooms.

MetroHealth is continually striving to create an environment that attracts pre-eminent physicians and researchers. Consistent with that goal, construction was completed in 1994 on the Charles H. Rammelkamp, Jr. Center for Education and Research located on the MetroHealth Medical Center campus. The seven-story facility houses education and research programs, including Education and Training, a division of the Department of Human Resources. More than 92,000 of the building's 137,000 square feet will be used for research laboratories and support areas. A 10,300 square foot medical library, an auditorium, and classrooms are included.

From our humble beginnings, The MetroHealth System has emerged as a full-service medical institution capable of providing high quality care for both routine medical problems and life-threatening conditions. We provide more services to more people than any other area hospital. We have a proud tradition of delivering quality health care and we challenge you to help us become better.