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History of UPMC Altoona

Altoona Hospital & Mercy Hospital/Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital


January 1, 1886

Chartered in 1883, the Altoona Hospital opens as a 28-bed facility on land donated by what was then the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

The medical staff includes Drs. John Fry, chief of staff; F.N. Christy, W.S. Ross, J.N. Blose and J.F. Arney, who serve without compensation. The hospital is supported by voluntary contributions and state appropriations.

February 1886

Altoona Hospital admits its first patient. One hundred and thirteen people will be treated in the first year of operation.

July 1886

A horse-drawn ambulance begins service to Altoona Hospital.


Altoona Hospital opens its first ward for female patients.


A third story is added to the main building of the hospital, along with a new ward at its west end with 14 beds.


The Altoona Hospital School of Nursing admits its first students. A newly constructed nurses’ residence opens the next year. The first class graduates in 1907.


July 14, 1910

Mountain City Hospital opens in a converted house that was the home of the McCaulley family in the area of 8th Avenue and 25th Street. It is purchased for $10,000.

The new hospital has 17 beds and a staff of 15 physicians and six nurses. It is the dream of physicians and other prominent citizens who see the need for a second facility.

Shortly after its founding, the leaders rename the hospital “Mercy,” hoping to find an order of religious women to operate it. That would not happen for 25 years.

Autumn 1910

Mercy Hospital School of Nursing opens with a capacity for six students. The school would continue to educate nurses for more than 75 years, enrolling 32 students in its final class.


Mercy Hospital opens a dispensary—a precursor to today’s trauma centers and emergency rooms.


The Mercy Hospital Nurses’ Alumnae Association is founded.


A new, motorized ambulance replaces the horse-drawn one.


Altoona Hospital opens a dispensary—a precursor to today’s modern trauma centers and emergency rooms.

Mercy Hospital opens a Men’s Ward.


May 1, 1935

In the midst of The Great Depression, the hope of Mercy Hospital’s founders is realized when the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth of Pittsburgh purchase and begin to manage the hospital with a board of community trustees.

The Sisters bring with them their unique mission and ministry to shepherd the hospital through the tough social and economic times of the late 1930s. They serve in a wide variety of positions: as board members, administrators, nurses, teachers, and more.


Altoona Hospital builds another story onto its structure, adding five modern operating rooms, and puts a passenger elevator into service.


Altoona Hospital opens an Intensive Care Unit.


Mercy Hospital opens a school for certified laboratory assistants.


Mercy starts a school for X-ray technicians.


Mercy Hospital opens its Intensive Care Unit.


The area’s first Coronary Care Unit opens at Altoona Hospital.

Meanwhile, at Mercy Hospital, a Radioisotope Department is established.


Mercy Hospital begins admitting students to a new School of Anesthesia.


A Coronary Care Unit opens at Mercy Hospital for the specialized treatment of heart disease.


Altoona Hospital begins its Family Medicine Residency Program, training the family physicians of the future.


The Cardiology Department at Altoona Hospital begins performing cardiac catheterizations in a newly equipped special procedures lab.


Mercy Hospital brings advanced cancer care to the region through its Regional Cancer Center. Warren Wilkins, MD, is the first medical director. Jack Schocker, MD, follows him as medical director in 1982.


The Tower Building opens at Altoona Hospital. With 13 stories, it dominates the inner-city Altoona skyline.


Mercy becomes the first community hospital in the country to offer Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).


John Anastasi, MD, and Burt Fazi, MD, perform the area’s first open-heart surgery, at Altoona Hospital.


Mercy renovates its maternity unit, making all rooms into birthing suites where families can stay for labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum. The new unit is named Birthday Suites.


To prepare for the effects of managed care, the Mercy Hospital changes its name to Mercy Regional Health System to reflect a transition to a modern, integrated, health care provider network.


A dedication ceremony is held at Altoona Hospital for the opening of a seven-story Outpatient Center and a five-story, 352-space parking garage.



A new Center for Cancer Care, offering the latest state-of-the-art treatment, opens in the Outpatient Center at Altoona.


The Maternity Unit at Altoona Hospital is upgraded to a modern LDRP (labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum) obstetric service.


At Mercy, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth welcome the Sisters of Bon Secours and Bon Secours Health System Inc. (BSHSI) as cosponsors. The hospital and health system’s names are changed to Bon Secours-Holy Family.

BSHSI is a not-for-profit multistate Catholic health care system based in Marriottsville, Md., sponsored by the Sisters of Bon Secours.


Bon Secours-Holy Family offers the first helicopter trauma service based in the area after an affiliation with Conemaugh Health System in Johnstown. An accredited Trauma Center, Conemaugh stations a medical helicopter and crew on the hospital’s campus.

In the same year, the affiliation makes possible an open-heart surgery program at the hospital.


Altoona Hospital opens its Regional Trauma Center after receiving accreditation from the Pennsylvania Trauma Foundation. The service includes air transport by helicopter.


The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth withdraw their sponsorship of Bon Secours-Holy Family to focus on family ministry programs in and around Pittsburgh, ending nearly 70 years of successful hospital stewardship.

October 2003

Altoona Hospital opens its freestanding Ambulatory Surgery Center on the hospital campus.


November 2004

Altoona Hospital merges with Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital to create Altoona Regional Health System.

Altoona Regional Health System

November 1, 2004

Altoona Regional Health System is formed by the merger of Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital and Altoona Hospital. System leaders promise to strengthen clinical services, improve medical quality, purchase leading-edge medical technology, enhance facilities and strengthen financial standing.



The Center for Cancer Care begins offering brachytherapy, also known as seed implant therapy, a leading-edge treatment for prostate cancer—the second-most common cancer in men.



Bon Secours-Holy Family’s Operation Safety Net-Altoona and Altoona Hospital’s Partnering for Health Services, both founded to serve the working uninsured of our region, join forces to enhance and expand care for that population.


The hospital is certified as a Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, recognizing its dedication and expertise in stroke care. From 2008 through 2013, the Stroke Center will earn Bronze, Silver and Gold Plus Achievement Awards from the American Stroke Association for quality stroke care.



Altoona Regional installs new CT scanner technology that scans the entire body in just 10 seconds. It is especially useful in diagnosing injuries in trauma patients, where every second matters.


Imaging Services introduces breakthrough MRI technology that captures diagnostic images at the speed of light.



SPECT/CT, combining two CT scanning tools, becomes the latest in leading-edge technologies added to the Imaging Services Department. Its high-quality images and ability to focus on organ function provide improved disease detection, diagnosis, and treatment planning.


In a $3 million project, the Cancer Center acquires one of the most innovative and advanced linear accelerators available for radiation treatment. It also becomes first in the state to use Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy. VMAT concentrates more radiation on tumors and less on nearby healthy tissue.



Outpatient services become more convenient and accessible when an outpatient center opens at Station Medical Center, a former shopping mall in midtown Altoona that has been converted to a medical facility.



Two state-of-the-art heart catheterization labs open. New technology reduces a patient's radiation exposure, provides enhanced internal images for the surgeon, and shows the extent of any narrowing of vessel walls.


Bon Secours Health System withdraws from the Altoona Regional partnership, ending 76 years of Catholic-sponsored health care in Altoona. A Mass of Thanksgiving is celebrated Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament to commemorate Catholic health care’s proud history of service to the region.



After significant expansion and modernization, Altoona Regional is able to consolidate services at the Altoona Hospital Campus and close the former Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital.


Altoona Regional Health System’s board members vote unanimously to partner with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center—a world-class academic health care provider.

Becoming UPMC

July 1, 2013

Altoona Regional Health System joins the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, becoming UPMC Altoona. UPMC makes a capital commitment of $250 million to enhance health care facilities and services and bring outstanding technology, science, innovation, and medical expertise to the region.


UPMC Altoona introduces robotic-assisted surgery with an advanced level of technology that takes surgical treatment beyond the limits of the human hand.


The hospital introduces a new method for detecting lung cancer at its earliest, most curable stages. One physician calls low-dose spiral computed tomography (CT) “the tool we have needed to reverse the odds of beating lung cancer and turn them more in our favor.”



The Pastoral Care Department dedicates Friends All-Faiths Chapel, a place of comfort, prayer, and peace for people of all beliefs. It blends the spirit, traditions, and some sacred articles from the chapels at Mercy/Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital and Altoona Hospital. The chapel was named for Friends of UPMC Altoona, the hospital auxiliary, which raised and donated the money to make it possible.


UPMC Altoona becomes the first hospital between Pittsburgh and Hershey to use a subcutaneous implantable defibrillator—a less invasive option for patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.


UPMC opens a Center for Liver Diseases clinic at Station Medical Center for assessment of patients’ suitability for transplant. It had previously opened an Outpatient Kidney Transplant Clinic there to evaluate patients for kidney and pancreas transplants and treat those who have had such surgery.



The UPMC Altoona Breast Health Center opens at Station Medical Center with a female-centered patient care experience.


The hospital receives Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care after rigorous evaluation confirms its exceptional ability to assess, diagnose, and treat heart attacks.


UPMC Altoona, in collaboration with Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh, opens a Teleconsult Center, connecting world-class obstetric and gynecologic specialists with the Altoona community.



The Mario Lemieux Foundation opens an Austin’s Playroom at the hospital to serve families and their children who are visiting UPMC Altoona.



Logan Medical Center opens between Altoona and Hollidaysburg, offering another convenient location for high-quality primary care, specialty services, and diagnostic testing.


UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Medical Oncology, part of UPMC Altoona, brings to the region its renowned cancer experts and services.