The 1860s marked the beginning of the industrial age—a time of expansion in the state. New factories and businesses brought new jobs, a growing economy, and an influx of immigrants. Civil War veterans were returning and many required medical care. After five years of planning, on October 1, 1868, the new hospital opened its doors and has been serving the citizens of the state ever since.
Through wars, epidemics and disasters, Rhode Island Hospital has been ready to respond to the ever shifting needs of the population. When the 1918 influenza epidemic struck, the hospital treated 1,373 patients for the illness. In 1933, when the nation was in the grip of the Great Depression, the hospital’s outpatient clinics were inundated, but were able to handle more than 112,000 patient visits. When hurricanes or blizzards hit, Rhode Island Hospital remained open and ready to respond, even providing shelter and meals to those stranded or seeking refuge.
While responding to the vagaries of nature, politics and the economy, Rhode Island Hospital has experienced its own evolutionary leaps. In addition to many fruitful periods of infrastructure development and the provision of new services, the hospital took major steps toward becoming a regional center of research and learning.