ON THIS DAY: May 12, 1938, Homeopathic Hospital changes its name to Shadyside Hospital

PITTSBURGH — Founded in 1866 in downtown Pittsburgh as the Homeopathic Medical and Surgical Hospital and Dispensary, the pioneering medical facility moved to Shadyside in 1910. Homeopathy fell out of favor as traditional medicine advanced and the hospital was renamed Shadyside Hospital on May 12, 1938.

Homeopathy was founded in the late 1700s in Germany and grew in popularity, particularly for the treatment of common ailments, through the turn of the 19th century. The philosophy of homeopathic medicine is based on the idea that “like cures like” and practitioners typically attempt to dose patients with the intent of prompting the body to regain its own health. Homeopathy’s use was often preferred at a time when medical interventions could be haphazard or outright dangerous.

Three members of the Homeopathic Medical Society of Allegheny County opened the Homeopathic Hospital downtown in 1866. The hospital offered medical, surgical, obstetric and outpatient services. In 1868, Dr. James Henderson McClelland joined the staff and played a critical role in the hospital’s expansion up until his death in 1913.

The hospital was a medical leader in the region, establishing the first school of nursing between Chicago and the East Coast in 1884. The UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing continues to offer student nurses flexible degree programs from 16 to 32 months in duration.

In 1896, the hospital was the first in western Pennsylvania to use x-rays and was also among the first to use surgical antiseptic techniques developed by Joseph Lister, which dropped post-surgical death rates by infection from about 80% to almost zero.

As downtown Pittsburgh expanded and its population grew, the hospital relocated to Shadyside, starting construction on a new building in 1907. The new Homeopathic Hospital opened to patients on March 1, 1910.

Scientific advancements in medical care pushed homeopathy out of favor with the public and the federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938 led to more regulation, classifying homeopathic medications as drugs.

The Board of Trustees renamed the hospital Shadyside Hospital on May 12, 1938.

In the decades since, Shadyside Hospital became known for its cardiology department and cardiac surgery. It opened Pittsburgh’s first coronary care unit.

Two large wings were built to the north (1926) and south (1955) of the main building. Both the North Wing and South Wing are still in use, but the main building and its entrance to the hospital were demolished in 1972. The current building is located just behind where it stood.

Shadyside Hospital opened the Family Health Center in 1973 to be a place for patients who did not have a primary care doctor.

Shadyside Hospital became part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 1997. UPMC President and CEO Jeffrey A. Romoff said he considered the large and well-managed Shadyside Hospital to be “the white-shoe hospital in town, at the top of its game.”

UPMC Shadyside Hospital is now a 520-bed hospital with a broad range of specialties and has since revisited some of its homeopathic roots. The Center for Integrative Medicine became the first hospital-based center in Pittsburgh to combine natural and holistic therapies as a service intended to complement conventional medicine.

The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center opened its flagship campus adjacent to UPMC Shadyside in 2002.