Warren General: More than a century of caring for Warren

After more than 100 years of service to the community, Warren General Hospital is still providing the type of health services you’d expect from a much larger facility close to home.

Today, Warren General provides a long list of care services from emergency services to a world-class cancer center, but it didn’t happen overnight. Warren General today is the result of over a century of dedication to community-centered healthcare.

The earliest precursor to the hospital of today comes from the Door of Hope, also called the Home of the Friendless. Door of Hope, founded in 1893, was a private nursing project aimed at providing health services for the impoverished sick and unmarried, pregnant women organized by Dr. J. Norman Davies and supported by the Society of Christian Workers.

Prior to 1898, Door of Hope provided the closest thing to a formal “hospital” in Warren. At the time, care was provided by independent, unaffiliated physicians, but the idea of founding a hospital in Warren was already taking roots. During the city’s centennial celebrations in 1895, a group of physicians, including Davies, banded together to provide an emergency hospital tent offering free services.

In 1896, Door of Hope was growing and found itself in need of further funding. A nurse at the facility, Mary Siefert Wells, reached out to fellow Lutheran Church members F. A. Steber and Dr. C. J. Frantz, who became interested in founding a corporation which would found the bedrock upon which a hospital would be built.

The first mention of the meeting of a group under the name Warren Emergency Hospital took place in 1896, though they as yet had no charter. Also in 1896, the Warren Mail makes mention of a decision to change the name of Door of Hope Home for the Friendless in its July edition.

While Door of Hope was, at the time, located on Liberty Street, the final location of a hospital was a topic of debate for a number of years leading up to its construction. Myron Waters worked to erect a hospital at the corner of Laurel and Water Streets, going so far as to begin excavation for the project. Meanwhile two additional sites, one on the other side of the river and one on the east side of the city, were donated by the Irvine estate and the East Warren Real Estate Company, respectively. Myron would eventually abandon his attempts to build a hospital in frustration. Through the efforts of Frantz, the area on the south side of the Allegheny River known at the time as the Fair Grounds, would become the eventual site of the hospital.

In March of 1898, a corporate charter was issued for Warren Emergency Hospital. The charter was secured by Frantz. Throughout the year, news articles repeatedly listed donations to the Warren Emergency Hospital, providing the initial financial footing for a hospital building.

The project was awarded by bid in January 1900. The winning bid of $20,000 was submitted by C. W. Uhdey, of Warren. By the end of March construction had begun and the facility opened to patients on Christmas Eve 1900.

A long period of growth, both in size and services provided, began.

In 1901, a nursing school was chartered, which would graduate its first class, consisting of three students, in 1903.

In 1906, the facility obtained its first X-ray machine. That same year, the hospital’s first addition, a “contagion cottage”, was erected. The Weatherbee Memorial Nurses’ Home was also opened in 1906.

In 1908 two wings, a laundry and horse carriages were added. Changes to the main building of the hospital were also undertaken.

The Eliza I. Henry Nurses’ Home was completed in 1916 and the following year, 1917, the Alice W. Jefferson Memorial Maternity Building was completed.

By this time, the hospital was providing services far beyond the project’s original scope, including obstetrics and laboratory services. As a result, in 1917, the hospital board of directors decided to rename the facility to reflect the expansion of services. The result was Warren General Hospital, as the facility is known today.

While a relatively quiet period ensued as compared to the ongoing growth of the previous decades, Warren General continued to improve, keeping pace with the medical advances of the time.

In 1930, new operating room equipment was obtained and, in 1931, the hospital began utilizing spinal anesthesia.

Warren General also faced the future in its staffing decisions and employed four female physicians by 1938.

The 1940s saw the close of the nursing school, due to financial issues, but would prove to herald an era of growth in the 1950s.

From 1950 through 1953 the facility’s north wings would be constructed and the existing building would be remodeled. The new wings opened in 1952 and the entire remodeled hospital was completed in 1954.

In 1958, the hospital opened the Jefferson Pavilion facility, the first immediate care facility for the elderly and chronically ill in the region.

The 1960s saw the initiation of a more than $2.5 million multi-phase building and remodeling project to modernize the hospital.

A ribbon cutting for a $1 million, new wing, which included an emergency room, was held in July of 1965. The project ran through the 1970s.

In 1975 new intensive care facilities were unveiled and demolition for phase III of the project was begun.

The hospital erected an 80th anniversary plaque in 1980, taking the anniversary date from the date the facility opened rather than its charter date.

The 1980s also saw the installation of an outpatient registration and reception area and a laboratory renovation and expansion.

In 1986, Jefferson Pavilion, long since diversified through renovations from just an immediate care facility transformed into the Jefferson Pavilion Maternal and Child Health Center.

The 1990s saw a new set of multi-phase renovations and modernization efforts through the Target Tomorrow expansion. Target Tomorrow saw installation of a new emergency care center, one-day surgery facilities and space for imaging services, amongst the larger renovations. The new emergency services area and entrance would open in 1997.

In 1998, the hospital would celebrate its 100th birthday, this time using the date of the original charter.

The 1990s would also see the opening of, first, the Crescent Park Health Clinic, and, later, the Crescent Park Dental Clinic.

In 2002, ground was broken for Warren General’s Cancer Center, which has grown to be a world-class facility. Expansion of the cancer center has continued into recent years and completed the latest expansion in 2013. This was possible through the generosity of the community and funds raised during the “Here We Grow” capital campaign. The facility doubled the number of infusion treatment chairs and exam rooms to adjust for the growing patient volumes seen at the cancer care center.

Today, Warren General continues a long tradition of providing and supporting a wide variety of primary care services. The facility represents numerous, wide-ranging services aimed at providing comprehensive health care to the community.

In all, the facility has grown to be a full-service hospital with more than 80 beds. As in the past, present and future, Warren General Hospital continues to serve as an independent community hospital providing community care with quality and compassion.

If you have any questions regarding services that Warren General Hospital offers, please call 723-3300 or visit our website at wgh.org.

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