I hope to provide in this paper a comprehensive understanding for what the term “hospital” has become. Hospitals are an extremely complex system that man has created and shaped and reshaped throughout history. My goal in writing and researching this paper will be to provide those who read it a clear understanding on how the hospital system got to where it is today, and to shed some light on the many organizations that affiliate with and contribute to all the wonderful things that hospitals do for people.
The evolution of hospitals is one of the most interesting things (in my opinion) that history has to offer. Long before America was even in existence there were places of care located ...view middle of the document...
The first hospital that was somewhat closer to how we view them today is considered by many to be the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Although at this time people were recognizing a need for hospitals they still weren’t being used as they are today. Reasons to start a hospital are explained in an article describing the beginnings of hospitals in these words-
There were really only two motives that could be appealed to, philanthropy and protection. No one thought of a hospital for private patients. Such an institution was only for the poor, the homeless, and the stranger. Then there were lunatics who if institutionalized would be less dangerous to the community (Ranson, 1942, p. 76).
I think that it is interesting to note the beliefs of what these early hospitals were based on. They were not after money or power they simply wanted to help people. Hospitals treated people who were vey underprivileged just because it was the right thing to do. In fact those who were wealthy chose not to go to hospitals but to be treated at home by their families and doctors.
This would all soon change in the early 1900s. In 1873 there were 149 hospitals documented, in a short 40 years that number grew to 6,665 in 1923. There were so many hospitals because most of them had a limited number of beds, most fewer than 50, and less than 200 had 200 beds or more (Arndt, Bigelow, 2007). Hospitals were left with a hard task in their early beginnings of overcoming what had become the reputation of hospitals at the time. Imagine the cleanliness and sterilization techniques that people knew about at the time. They didn’t exactly promote healing. Starr said this about the task of hospitals changing the perspective of the people:
To attract patients accustomed to medical care in the home, hospitals had to overcome the traditional image of the hospital as an unclean house of death or a refuge for the poor and had to transform into "a work place for the production of health" based on scientific principles (Starr, 1982).
The importance of hospitals was beginning to take shape during these years but the idea of a hospital as a business entity was not yet realized. It was also during these years that the role of the administrator was beginning to be set forth. With the development of new technologies and better trained doctors, hospitals began to be the places where the upper middle class would go to receive care. Over time the idea of a hospital was changed from a place of sickness to a place of healing. When this change occurred so did the costs that were associated with it. For the first time hospitals were now starting to have some real costs, having to pay doctors and nurses and buy equipment was getting expensive. Partnering with religious and other non-profit institutions was giving them the cash that they needed.
The role of religious institutions has always been present throughout the history of hospitals. Many of those who were volunteering in...