CLEVELAND - Six surgeons, four internists, a radiologist, an otolaryngologist and a biophysicist worked on hospital patients -- all 41 of them -- in a four story building at East 93rd and Euclid in downtown Cleveland.
A far cry from what you think of Cleveland Clinic hospital today, but that was the scene 90 years ago -- February 28, 1921 – the first day that the Cleveland Clinic opened.
Today, Cleveland Clinic has 2,800 physicians and scientists, 11,000 nurses, 50 buildings on a 180-acre main campus, nine community hospitals, 16 suburban family health centers and facilities in Florida, Canada, and Las Vegas. In 2013, the hospital will add a campus in Abu Dhabi forming a comprehensive global health system.
In 2010, there were more than 4 million patient visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system.
Cleveland Clinic was originally a group medical practice founded by Drs. George Crile, Frank Bunts, William Lower and John Phillips. Their mission statement was: “Better care of the sick, investigation into their problems, and further education of those who serve.”
The hospital is also known as the site of one of Cleveland's most catastrophic fires. In May of 1929, the main building of the Cleveland Clinic campus caught fire after some x-ray film ignited.
By the time the fire was out, 123 people lost their lives. Among those killed was one of the Cleveland Clinic's founders, Dr. John Phillips. Reports said that most of the victims died from inhaling poisonous gases produced by the burning x-ray film.
The fire helped bring major changes at both the local and national levels, including the addition of gas masks as part of standard firefighter equipment and the creation of a citywide ambulance service. Medical facilities across the country established new standards for storing hazardous materials such as x-ray film as a result of the fire.
Today the clinic is known as one of the top hospitals in the country and a leader of medical innovation. Some of the notable medical advances that were developed at Cleveland Clinic include: the dosimeter to measure radiation; the air mattress to prevent pressure ulcers; conservative surgical techniques for treating breast and other cancers; identification of carpal tunnel syndrome; the performance of “stopped-heart” surgery, using a heart-lung machine developed by a Cleveland Clinic physician and most recently the nation’s first face transplant.
“We continue to be as committed to those ideals today as our founders were 90 years ago. Since 1921, our goal has been consistent – to put patients first,” said Delos M. Cosgrove, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and President of Cleveland Clinic in a press release. “We are proud of our history and the significant milestones accomplished right here in northeast Ohio that have changed the course of medicine and advanced patient care.”
To celebrate the hospital’s 90 years, Cleveland Clinic will be hosting events for employees and the community throughout the year, including:
• The launch of a website outlining the Clinic’s history: www.clevelandclinic.org/90years
• Dance and musical performances in the lobbies of the Miller Family Pavilion and the Crile Building.
• Multiple showings for employees of a film recounting the Clinic’s history.
• Historical displays throughout the main campus and community hospitals.
• Opportunities for patients and employees to share stories via the Clinic’s Facebook page.
For more information about Cleveland Clinic’s 90th Anniversary events, visit www.clevelandclinic.org/90years .