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Rhode Island Hospital Kicks off 150th Anniversary Celebration

11/13/2012

State's first general medicine hospital to celebrate throughout 2013


Rhode Island Hospital kicked off its 150th anniversary celebration today with the unveiling of a Legacy Timeline commemorating each decade since 1863 and the hospital's many milestones. Today's event is the first of many throughout 2013 that will recognize the signing of the hospital's charter on March 10, 1863, by the Rhode Island General Assembly.

The Legacy Timeline, created by local artist Thomas Lynch, includes historic photos and artifacts and will be permanently installed outside the George Auditorium in the hospital's Meehan building. The hospital also unveiled a six-foot, three-dimensional rendering of a mural, created through a partnership with Governor Lincoln Chafee, to be installed on the Interstate 95 underpass at Eddy Street near the hospital's main entrance. Created by Public Art Works, the mural is part of the Governor's Gateway Beautification Program and is expected to be completed in spring 2013.

"In 1863, our founders set out to create a hospital to meet the growing medical needs of the community," said Timothy J. Babineau, MD, president and chief executive officer of Lifespan and president of Rhode Island Hospital. "While there were smaller hospitals created to focus on specific illnesses such as small pox, Rhode Island Hospital was the first in the state to provide general medical and surgical services for a range of illnesses and injury."

Rhode Island Hospital, the state's largest hospital with the only Level I trauma center and the principal teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, is one of the nation's leading academic medical centers. It counts among its staff the best and brightest minds in medicine and some of the world's leading researchers, receiving more than $55 million last year in external funding from various agencies including the National Institutes of Health. Research scientists at Rhode Island Hospital have pioneered discoveries in Alzheimer's disease, stem cell research for the treatment of various cancers, behavioral disorders, stroke, cardiac illnesses and much more.

Rhode Island Hospital is a leader in cancer, cardiac, orthopedics, the neurosciences, and much more. It has been the first in the region, country and the world to achieve successful outcomes with new treatments and the first to use new technology. Some of these achievements include (additional highlights below):

  • First in the world to use microwave ablation to destroy tumors
  • First in the world to use the Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy system to treat endometrial cancer
  • One of the first 10 centers in the nation to use Brachytherapy to treat early-stage breast cancer
  • First hospital in the country to treat an inoperable kidney tumor using new NanoKnife technology
  • One of the first in the country to offer high-fidelity medical simulation
  • One of the first in the country to have an electrocardiograph
  • One of the first in New England to perform open heart surgery

A key component to the hospital's long-standing success is the employees' commitment to excellence. Today, more than 7,200 employees work at the hospital.

"Since the hospital's inception, medicine and technology have made tremendous advances, and some of our employees have witnessed these changes first hand, having worked at Rhode Island Hospital for their entire careers," Babineau said. "Their longevity is a testament to our employees' commitment to patient care, and to Rhode Island Hospital's commitment to its employees."

One of the lifelong physicians at Rhode Island Hospital is Arun Singh, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon in the combined open heart surgery program at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals. Singh has been performing open-heart surgeries at Rhode Island Hospital since 1975. Rhode Island Hospital was one of the first hospitals in New England to perform open heart surgery, and has been performing the procedure for more than 50 years.

"When I came to Rhode Island Hospital to begin my career 40 years ago, heart surgery was performed on just two to three patients per week, mostly on patients born with heart defects or who had a serious problem with a heart valve," Singh said. "That increased to about 25 per week in the 1980s and '90s. But these days, thanks to improved interventions, medicines and better diet and exercise regimens, the number of heart surgeries is down significantly. Open heart surgery is now a last resort for many patients."

Singh continued, "Thanks to the discoveries and developments in science and technology, we are able to perform this life-saving surgery on very sick patients; and due to great teamwork, our outcome are excellent. There is always a new technology being developed and I am very optimistic about the potential of these newer techniques and treatments available at Rhode Island Hospital, thus giving our patients who face inevitable death, new hope for recovery."

Rhode Island Hospital will celebrate its anniversary throughout the year, with monthly events to recognize all employees; a formal unveiling of 150th anniversary exterior signage; a ceremonial resigning of the Rhode Island Hospital charter with Governor Chafee at the Rhode Island State House; the unveiling of a mural to be located on the Interstate 95 underpass at Eddy Street; a curated art exhibit; a dedicated Waterfire; an anniversary website, and more.

"Each day, we strive to provide the highest quality care, to conduct cutting-edge research and to develop new treatments and technologies all in an effort to advance medicine," Babineau said. "For 150 years, we have been caring for patients with everything from the simplest medical issues to the most complex. Our staff is committed to our patients and families, and to improving care, and I am honored to lead such a talented and dedicated group of health care professionals."

Highlights Rhode Island Hospital 1863 -2103

1863The Rhode Island Hospital charter is signed by the Rhode Island General Assembly
1868Rhode Island Hospital opens on October 1, with 60 beds. Cost of construction: $421,000. There were 6,000 visitors the first day.
1877Department for treating diseases of women and children is established.
1882Training School for Nurses opens; 17 students enroll.
1895Department of Orthopedic Surgery for the prevention and cure of deformities in children and adults opens.
1896Hospital is wired for electricity. X-ray equipment is installed.
1900Southwest Pavilion opens with ward and playroom for children and wards for women.
1922Jane Brown Building for private patients is built at cost of more than $700,000
1915Hospital is equipped with one of first electrocardiographs in the United States.
1922Rhode Island Hospital is the first in the nation to open a tumor clinic for cancer patients, established by Herman Pitts, MD, and George Waterman, MD.
1931Joseph Samuels Dental Clinic for Children opens. More than 2,000 youngsters are treated in the first six months.
1955Main Building is completed at cost of more than $9,500,000. The Rhode Island Hospital Guild is formed. First intensive care unit is established with an $84,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation.
1969Formal affiliation between Brown University and the Rhode Island hospitals.
1992Rhode Island Hospital is one of the first centers in the United States and one of two in New England to offer GammaKnife radiosurgery.
2002Rhode Island Hospital opens the Medical Simulation Center, one of a few centers in the country to offer high-fidelity medical simulation.
2004Rhode Island Hospital is the first in the world to use microwave ablation to destroy tumors.
2004Rhode Island Hospital is the first in the world to use microwave ablation to destroy tumors.
2008First in the world to use the Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy system to treat endometrial cancer, and one of 10 centers in the U.S. to use it to treat early-stage breast cancer.
2009Rhode Island Hospital is the first in the nation to treat an inoperable kidney tumor using new NanoKnife technology, which employs pulses of electricity to destroy tumor cells.