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History of UPMC Cole

UPMC Cole's roots stretch back to October 1, 1967, when the hospital opened as Charles Cole Memorial Hospital.

We're here because of the vision of Coudersport native Charles Cole (1876-1961).

Cole traveled extensively for most of his career in sales working for Thomas Watson in the company that would become IBM. With part of Cole's salary paid with IBM stock, he quietly amassed a fortune over time.

Retiring at age 50 and moving back to Potter County, Cole lived such a frugal life that most people had no idea of his wealth.

Though Cole never worked in health care, he had a strong vision for improving it. When he passed away, he left instructions for his estate to fund a modern community hospital.

His wife, Edith Pinney Cole, fulfilled her husband's wishes.

Building a New Hospital for Potter County

Before building Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, people in and around Coudersport relied on Potter County Memorial Hospital, which had opened in 1917. (First called Coudersport Hospital, its renaming in 1944 was in honor of Potter County vets of World Wars I and II.)

A groundbreaking ceremony for Charles Cole Memorial Hospital was held on July 16, 1965, construction began that September, and culminated two years later. A dedication ceremony, on October 1, 1967, was attended by Governor Raymond P. Shafer, Edith Cole Leonard, Hospital Board President Henry Lush, and hundreds of community members. Patients were transferred from the former Potter County Memorial Hospital over the next 60 days.

Cole's gift allowed the community to build a new hospital to better serve the needs of Potter County.

He also set up an endowment fund through his estate to ensure any person unable to pay for treatment would get care.

Hospital Expands and Becomes UPMC Cole

Mrs. Cole later married a Chicago surgeon, G. Howard Irwin. They lived in the Windy City for a while but returned to Potter County when he retired in 1971.

They both kept a philanthropic interest in the hospital until their deaths in the 1990s.

The couple set up charitable trusts to help meet the community's health needs far into the future.

These trusts have funded the two buildings added to the hospital — the Irwin Rehabilitation Center and Irwin Medical Arts Center.

Likewise, services and programs have grown over the years, including cancer care and other specialties. The hospital received designation as a critical access hospital in 2007.

In March 2018, Cole Memorial became UPMC Cole, giving people in north central Pa. access to one of the country's top health systems. It remains a testament to the difference one person's vision can make for generations to come.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of UPMC Cole, visit the Cole Foundation website.