Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Massachusetts General Hospital celebrates 200 years in 2011

BOSTON — Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) will celebrate its bicentennial in 2011, marking 200 years of visionary contributions to the field of medicine and to the diverse patient communities it serves. Founded in 1811, MGH is the third oldest general hospital in America.

"MGH's bicentennial year offers the opportunity to reflect on our rich history, as well as reaffirm our commitments to providing the highest standards of patient care both in our local communities and globally as a leader in scientific discovery, innovation, and medical education," said MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD.

Chartered by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature on Feb. 25, 1811, MGH filled the need in New England for a facility providing round the clock medical care for the general public. Once chartered, four acres of land in Boston's West End were acquired for construction, and MGH opened its doors for its first patient on September 3, 1821. 

MGH is renowned for contributions to the advancement of healthcare made during the past 200 years. Notably, it was the site of the first successful public demonstration of ether as an anesthetic on Oct. 16, 1846, when MGH co-founder John Collins Warren, MD, painlessly removed a tumor from a patient's jaw. Other notable accomplishments include:

  • 1896: Created the first X-ray exposure in the United States
  • 1905: Establishment of the first medical social service department in a hospital
  • 1960: Proton beam therapy is first used to treat tumors of the eye, neck and brain.

A commemorative history book, "Something in the Ether, A Bicentennial History of Massachusetts General Hospital, 1811 to 2011", was written by authors Webster Bull and Martha Bull and will be available in March 2011. This fall, MGH also broke ground on the Museum of Medical History and Innovation, which is expected to open in late 2011. The museum will feature compelling visuals, artifacts, and current and past stories of innovation and achievements, as well as changing exhibits and lectures highlighting evolutionary themes in medicine.

For additional information about MGH's history and the bicentennial celebrations planned in 2011, visit

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of its founding in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital is the oldest and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The 907-bed medical center each year admits approximately 47,650 inpatients and handles nearly 1.4 million visits to its extensive outpatient programs, including more than 88,000 emergency visits. The surgical staff perform approximately 38,000 operations annually, and the MGH Vincent Obstetrics Service delivers more than 3,500 babies a year. The largest nongovernment employer in the city of Boston, the MGH has nearly 22,500 employees, including more than 3,700 registered nurses. MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital are founding members of Partners HealthCare System, a Boston-based integrated health care delivery system, and MGH is consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals by US News and World Report.

Jennifer Gundersen Harris, (617) 724-6433,

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