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Chester County Press

County's History Center to present "The Story of the Chester County Hospital"

02/01/2022 02:20PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo courtesy of the Chester County History Center

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Among the progress made by Chester County’s most prominent institutions over the past decade, Chester County Hospital may stand at the very top of that list.

The hospital has grown into a 309-bed acute-care inpatient facility in West Chester, with outpatient services in Exton, West Goshen, New Garden, West Grove, Jennersville and Kennett Square.

In 2013, the hospital became part of Penn Medicine, one of the world's leading academic centers for medical education, biomedical research and patient care, and in 2020, the hospital completed the largest expansion in its history that included 15 operating room suites, a 99-bed patient tower, a new main entrance and an expanded and renovated emergency department.

Yet, to acknowledge the vast and integrated network of the hospital -- medical and surgical services, home health, inpatient hospice, nursing care and occupational medicine to list just a few – is to also recognize that Chester County Hospital began 130 years ago to serve the medical needs of a growing community.

It is a rich history, imagined into being by both visionaries and benefactors and on Feb. 8, that story will be told.

Sponsored by The Haverford Trust Company, the Chester County History Center will present “The Story of the Chester County Hospital,” an hour-long online presentation beginning at 7 p.m. and hosted by Andy Gordon, Director of Business Development at Chester County Hospital.

After an impassioned appeal from several key local physicians including Jacob Price, Isaac Macy and Thomas Dunn, Chester County Hospital first opened its doors in 1893 as a small ten-bed dispensary located just a few hundred yards from its current location on Marshall Street in West Chester. Before its opening, people living in Chester County with life-threatening injuries and illnesses had to travel to Philadelphia for treatment – at a time when the nation was still recovering from the Civil War and sanitary conditions were not as commonplace as they are now.

“Disease travels with people and with wars, and ultimately, that fact is what ended up getting the townspeople to the point where they said, ‘We need to be able to take care of people here,’” Gordon said. “Before hospitals existed, healthcare favored the wealthy to a certain degree because they could afford to have doctors come to their houses. Yet it was the community’s contention, as so stated in an address by Dr. Dunn to the leaders in May of 1892, the growing town needed a hospital to care for all people. That pressed the need to create what became Chester County Hospital.”

With the community's support, the new Chester County Hospital eventually grew in both size and impact, bolstered by a sizable contribution from Pierre DuPont and his wife Alice in 1918 that led to the development of a larger facility that would be able to grow not only in size but in the ability to care for the community’s growing population.

The story of the hospital is well-told narrative, one that is still given at orientation sessions for the hospital’s newly-hired staff. In it, the names of several early stakeholders and visionaries begin to emerge, including the influence of the local Quaker population whom Gordon said had a large impact on the start of the hospital.

“They had an inherent responsibility to help others, but also a really strong need to understand science,” he said. “My hope for this presentation is to give those who attend a sense of how the growth of the community merged with world events to impact how the hospital developed into what it is today.

“There has been a lot of history experienced here over the course of more than 100 years, and my hope is to illuminate how those influences and those people have impacted how the hospital has grown.”

“The Story of Chester County Hospital” is being sponsored by the Haverford Trust Company, and all proceeds from the event will benefit the History Center’s development of future programming and the preservation of its collections.

Admission to the event is on a pay-as-you-wish basis, and while a donation will be greatly appreciated, a limited number of free tickets will be available. To register for attendance at this online event or to learn more, visit The Chester County History Center’s website at

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].