UVA Health History

A Brief History of the UVA Medical Center

Thomas Jefferson founded UVA's medical education and patient care program in 1825, but no hospital existed until many years later.

A dispensary was constructed in 1895. It served as a surgery center until 1901 and a place for outpatient care until 1916. Patients were taken across the street to a rooming house to recuperate from surgery. For a time, university doctors practiced at a six-bed, public, inpatient facility in a remodeled home.

In the spring of 1901, UVA dedicated its first hospital: a 25-bed building with three operating rooms. By 1916, there had been three new additions to the hospital, bringing the total beds to 200. By 1941, rising patient volume had required another four additions to the hospital and brought inpatient capacity to 485.

In 1960, the cluster of old buildings and additions saw its final expansion with the completion of a modern, eight-story, 400-bed structure that planners called the multistory hospital and the public dubbed the "new hospital." The new facility was air-conditioned, spacious and was equipped with the best technology available at the time.

Another 29 years passed before UVA opened a new hospital building. A certificate of need was approved by the Virginia General Assembly in April 1984. Groundbreaking for the new hospital was held on November 7, 1984, and excavations began the following summer. The total project, including the University Hospital, a 642-space parking garage and a heater/chiller plant, is the largest capital project in the state's history aside from highway construction. It had a budget of $230 million, including $24 million from the state.

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