February 11, 2015

February 11, 1752: Benjamin Franklin Founds First Hospital in the American Colonies

Engraving of Pennsylvania Hospital by William Strickland, 1811

Is there anything Benjamin Franklin couldn't do?

Patriot, philosopher, author, printer, and politician. Scientist, inventor, and civic leader. He invented the bifocals, the Franklin stove, the odometer, and the lightning rod. He helped establish the University of Pennsylvania. He served as the Minister to France, the Governor of France, and the British Postmaster to the colonies. He established the first German newspaper in America. He was a Grand Master of the Masons. And, in 1952, he opened the first hospital in america.

His co-founder in this venture was Thomas Bond, a physician who had attended to Franklin's wife, Deborah, during her final illness. Franlin and Bond were close friends, and it was to Franklin that Bond turned with his idea about a hospital. Bond had the ideas and the professional knowledge, but he couldn't figure out how to get his project funded. Franklin was good at that sort of thing.

The hospital was established as a place to treat both the physically and the mentally ill, and especially those who couldn't pay for their own treatment. The hospital seal, chosen by the two men, depicts the story of the Good Samaritan. "Take care of him and I will repay thee," is the inscription.

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