History of the University of Michigan Health System

From groundbreaking and compassionate patient care to remarkable innovations, and advancement in medical education, the University of Michigan Health System has been on the forefront of medicine since the mid-1800s.

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History Highlights

The 1800s

1817: The University of Michigan is founded as one of the first public universities in the nation.

1837: The University moves its campus from Detroit to Ann Arbor.

1848: The  Board of Regents establishes a three-member medical department, known today as the  University of Michigan Medical School|

1850: The Medical School opens its doors to more than 100 students. They are charged $5 a year for two years of education. 

1852: Ninety young physicians receive medical diplomas from U-M. 

1867: University enrollment reaches an all-time high of 1,255 students, 525 of whom are enrolled in the Medical School. 

1869: U-M opens the first university-owned medical facility in the United States. The 20-bed hospital is located in the residence of a former professor. It has no wards or operating rooms. 
1875:
U-M adds two wooden pavilions to the hospital. The structure is designed to be "easily burned down in 10 years because it would be badly infected," according to the writings of one physician. 

1880: The Medical School adopts a three-year curriculum, introduces laboratory instruction and assigns grades for the first time.

1890: U-M adopts the four-year medical school program still in use today.

1891: The first six nursing students are admitted to the University Hospital program. A new hospital on Catherine Street replaces the old Campus Pavilion Hospital.

1899: The Medical School introduces the clinical clerkship. The breakthrough is made possible by the fact that U-M owns its own hospital (privately owned hospitals would not allow medical students to touch their patients). 

The 1900s

1900: The U.S. medical community recognizes the Catherine Street Hospital as the largest teaching hospital in the country. 

1903: The 75-bed Palmer Ward for children opens in the Catherine Street Hospital. 

1906: The U-M Department of Psychiatry, one of the nation's first such academic departments, is established.

1912 U-M establishes the nation's first  Department of Dermatology.

1913: U-M researchers introduce the electrocardiogram (EKG) to American physicians. 

1921: U-M establishes  Pediatrics  as an independent department, strengthening the University's focus on children. 

1922: U-M Pediatrician David Murray Cowie introduces iodized salt as a goiter preventive. 

1925: The new 700-bed University Hospital (also known as the Main Hospital) replaces the Catherine Street Hospital and is designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn.

1928: University Hospital offers the first physician training program in thoracic surgery. Four years later, U-M physicians perform the world's first successful lung removal.

1939: The Neuropsychiatric Institute opens, adjacent to the main hospital.

1940: U-M creates the first  human genetics  program in the United States. The U-M Board of Regents authorizes the establishment of the nation's first hereditary diseases clinic at University Hospital. 

1941: The  U-M School of Nursing  is fully established as a health science academic unit of the University.

1950: The U-M Women's Hospital opens its doors. 

1951: The four-year program leading to the Bachelor of Science in nursing is established. 

1955: The Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital opens. 

1959: The U-M Burn Center is created – the first dedicated burn unit in Michigan and one of the first in the U.S. 

1968: U-M physicians perform the first heart transplant in Michigan at University Hospital.

1969:  C.S. Mott Children's Hospital opens as U-M's first separate children's hospital. 

1972: U-M builds the James and Lynelle Perinatal Holden Hospital (now called the  Holden Newborn Intensive Care Unit ) to care for premature and critically ill infants. The Ph.D. program in nursing is one of the first in the nation. 

1976: U-M establishes the  W.K. Kellogg Eye Center . The 32-bed facility provides patient care, education and research in eye diseases. Today, Kellogg is an outpatient facility. 

1986: A new 11-story, 550-bed adult general University Hospital replaces the old University Hospital. The A. Alfred Taubman Health Care Center, which houses 120 outpatient clinics, is connected to the facility. M-CARE is created by U-M and licensed by the state of Michigan; it is one of the first university-owned HMOs in the U.S. 

1990: The expansion of U-M Hospitals continues with the opening of integrated services for children and women in 221,000 square feet of new space and renovated units in existing hospitals.

1991: The School of Nursing celebrates the 100th anniversary of nursing at U-M. 

1997: The U-M Board of Regents officially approves "University of Michigan Health System" as a designation for the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, Medical School, M-CARE and Michigan Health Corp. The U-M moves its cancer and geriatrics clinical and research programs into the $88 million  Cancer Center  and Geriatrics Center Building, establishes the Center for Gene Therapy, and enhances resources for the Center for Organogenesis.

1999: The Department of Emergency Medicine is created. 

The 21st Century

2001: U-M establishes the nation's first comprehensive  Depression Center

2003: The Medical School begins to implement a new curriculum that integrates biomedical, clinical and psychosocial sciences with clinical skills and professionalism. 

2004: The Health System announces its largest gift – $44 million from Bill and Dee Brehm – which will provide funds for the  Brehm Center for Diabetes Research , several faculty positions, and a research facility to be built as part of the expansion of the Kellogg Eye Center. 

2005: The Mott Foundation provides a $25 million grant for a new children’s and women’s facility. The Michigan Comprehensive Diabetes Center is founded. 

2006: The East Ann Arbor Ambulatory Surgery and Medical Procedures Center, Rachel Upjohn Building (including the U-M Depression Center) and Biomedical Science Research Building open. Ground is broken for the new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital.

2007: The  U-M Cardiovascular Center's  clinical building opens, providing a new home for much of U-M's heart, vascular and stroke care for adult patients. Retail pioneer Alfred Taubman gives $22 million to create the center and to support fundamental research into a wide range of human disease. The Center for Healthcare Research, a joint venture with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, is formed as a result of the 2006 M-CARE sale.

2008: The clinical activities of the top-ranked U-M School of Nursing become part of the U-M Health System. All three U-M hospitals and many clinical units complete their transition to an entirely computerized order entry system called UM-CareLink. The Faculty Group Practice takes on responsibility for ambulatory (outpatient) care as part of an ongoing effort to integrate the Medical School and the Hospitals & Health Centers, and to increase efficiency and coordination across the Health System. 

2009: U-M purchases the former Pfizer campus in northeast Ann Arbor, names it the North Campus Research Complex, and begins converting it into a vibrant hub for staff & scientists from UMHS and other areas of the University. UMHS receives a $15 million gift from the Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander Foundation to support the construction of a new women’s hospital, which will be named the  University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. The Michigan Visiting Nurses celebrate 100th anniversary. The U-M Burn Center celebrates its 50th anniversary. 

2010: The new Brehm Tower at the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center increases the capacity to provide advanced eye care for a growing aging population and unites diabetes researchers as they search for a cure. 

2011: U-M Board of Regents approves a new, independent Department of Cardiac Surgery and a new Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics Department, as well as a new Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation.  The new C.S. Mott Women's Hospital  and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital open. An expanded Adult Emergency Department and Psychiatric Emergency area open.

2012: A master affiliation agreement with the Michigan hospitals of Trinity Health is signed. The already close relationship with the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System grows closer with the move of VA researchers to the North Campus Research Complex.  The first phase of the comprehensive electronic health information system known as MiChart goes online in the emergency, outpatient and financial arease of UMHS, and makes possible a new Web-based patient portal. Two Accountable Care Organizations, the U-M Pioneer ACO and POM-ACO, are formed, putting UMHS at the forefront of health care reform. Survival Flight's three new helicopters take to the sky.

2013: An affiliation with MidMichigan Health is signed. The number of people working at NCRC reaches 2,000.  Ground is broken on a new outpatient center in Northville. The Trinity affiliation leads to the opening of new U-M-managed inpatient beds in Chelsea Community Hospital and Saint Joseph Mercy-Ann Arbor Hospital. The Cardiovascular Center is named in honor of Samuel and Jean Frankel, whose foundation provided early support of the CVC's innovative model for caring for people with cardiovascular disease.