A CENTURY OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT

In 1923, philanthropic gifts from the community launched Doylestown Hospital. Since then, each gift—from event proceeds to legacy gifts and bequests—continues to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the patients and families we serve. We are proud to highlight the ways gifts from our community have shaped our first one hundred years.

1895-1923 A PHILANTHROPIC LEGACY TAKES SHAPE

The forward-thinking women of the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown (VIA) began their work in 1895 to improve the “health and welfare” of fellow citizens.
Their earliest initiatives included the purchase of a sprinkler truck to dampen the dusty roads and also addressed public health concerns such as hygiene and sanitation. Like other progressive women’s groups of the time, the members of the VIA could not legally vote, yet their collective action ignited a spark of positive change. The overwhelmingly positive response from the community encouraged and validated the VIA’s vision for local access to healthcare.
  • In 1907, the Hospital Fund was established with the support of 22 local ministers and physicians. Young performers held a minstrel show benefit with proceeds designated to the hospital fund.
  • In 1915, the first ambulance was donated by Mrs. James and Mrs. Lorah in memory of their father. The O.P. James Memorial Ambulance transported its first patient in June of that year.
  • In 1919, the women of the VIA canvassed the town, going door-to-door for donations annually with instantly recognizable blue bags. From October 1, 1919, to October 1, 1920, $1,900 was raised ($34,000 in today’s dollars). Click to expand below for more of their story.

The following report was provided by the VIA in 1920 to show the impact of visiting nurse work and the community’s support. “A year ago, we came before you asking for contributions for the work of the Visiting Nurse. Your response was so generous that the work has been carried on during the year, and an automobile purchased for the use of the Nurse. This has enabled her to do a greater amount of work, with far greater ease. May we hope for generous contributions again this year, so that the work may be maintained and developed along the lines of larger usefulness.”

  • Number of Nursing Visits 1,783
  • Baby Welfare 245
  • Tuberculosis 75
  • Treatment at Clinics 135
  • Office Treatments 162
  • Treatments at Schools 412
  • Operations at Emergency Room 39
  • Operations at Homes 10

1923-1939 DOYLESTOWN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL OPENS TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY

With funds raised from the community, on October 9, 1923, the VIA dedicated Doylestown Emergency Hospital upon a simple yet brilliant premise: patients heal faster when they are known, cherished, and cared for in the community they call home.
  • In 1925, through the “splendid cooperation of neighboring community organizations,” the Doylestown Rotary Club donated funds to expand Doylestown Hospital from eight to fourteen beds in memory of Drs. Frank and Joseph Swartzlander.
  • In 1935, as the VIA was exploring ways to fund an expansion of the hospital, they learned of a bequest from Isaiah W. Closson, a cattle dealer from Carversville. This gift of nearly $50,000 allowed the VIA to envision a new direction for the hospital’s growth. Soon after, two estate gifts totaling $19,000 were received allowing the VIA to chart an even bolder plan for the hospital.

1939 -1975 BEQUESTS LAUNCH A NEW ERA OF PROGRESS AND GROWTH

Doylestown Emergency Hospital officially opened to the public at Belmont Avenue on January 21, 1939. Doylestown Hospital continued to evolve and so did the needs of the community. The baby boom of World War II had a significant impact on the population, and new technology and physician specialization allowed the hospital to add more services quickly and efficiently.
The impact of bequests was evident immediately, as the first baby born in the new Belmont hospital was Nancy Closson Labs, a relative of Isaiah Closson.
  • By 1949, the VIA was already planning an expansion and the grand opening of the new hospital wing took place in 1951.
  • In 1957, the VIA launched a three-year, $1.5 million building drive. The steering committee included well-known Doylestown natives—the Pulitzer prize-winning author James A. Michener and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. The new wing opened in 1960.
  • In 1966, the VIA hosted the annual Village Fair to raise funds for the hospital. Many local groups participated, including the Rotary Club who hosted a chicken dinner.
  • In 1971, the VIA began the Bucks County Designer House & Gardens fundraiser. With community support and member dedication, this event remains the VIA’s largest annual fundraiser and raises millions to benefit Doylestown Hospital, and other community organizations.
  • In 1972, the hospital leadership voted to relocate, and the vision for a new era began.
  • In 1973, the Capital Fund Committee was established with community, medical staff, VIA, and hospital representation. James A. Michener once again supported the effort. The Relocation Fund Drive netted $1,571,665. Longstanding donors stepped forward once again including this year’s 2023 Centennial Sponsor, Penn Color, Inc.

1975-2023 TRANSFORMATIONAL PHILANTHROPY ADVANCES INNOVATION

Once Doylestown Hospital opened in its current location on State Street in 1975, the pace of progress in healthcare continued to accelerate and philanthropy continued to power new advancements in facilities, technology, and programs.
Special campaigns include:
Progress in Care ’81, a three-year fundraising campaign undertaken by the Hospital Committee, far exceeded its goal raising a total of over $821K through 1983 to fund a physical rehabilitation center and modifications to Radiology and ancillary services.
ADVANCE ’91, a community-wide capital campaign which began in 1989, continued the tradition of philanthropy by raising nearly $2.5 million to benefit the hospital’s 1991 expansion program. The lobby area was one part of the comprehensive building project as well as many other spaces.
Doylestown Hospital Community Arboretum (1998)
The Arboretum was established as part of the hospital’s 75th-anniversary celebrations and includes seven distinct gardens for the entire hospital community to enjoy. A sculpture installation by Greg and Tiana Leavitt titled Dancing Cranes, (2007) was also funded by generous donations.
Cardiac Promise – The Heart Center Campaign (2000–2001) Doylestown Hospital’s first cardiac catheterization laboratory opened in 1991, and physicians began treating heart attack patients with emergency angioplasty in 1997, thus paving the way for a comprehensive cardiac surgery program. The Cardiac Promise capital campaign raised money to build the Heart Center of Doylestown Hospital, which opened in 2000. The first open heart surgery procedure was performed on July 18, 2000, and by 2012, The Richard A. Reif Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital was recognized as one of the 50 top cardiac programs in the nation by Thomson Reuters.
The Future of Emergency Care (2007–2010) More than $16 million was raised, surpassing the initial goal of $12.5M to renovate and expand the Emergency Department.
Cancer Institute Campaign (2010 -2011) Through philanthropic support from the community, Doylestown Health’s Cancer Institute expanded by twice the size within the Pavilion, located adjacent to the hospital.
VIA Maternity Center Campaign (2013–2014) Members of the VIA honored the legacy of the group’s original members who founded the first Doylestown “Maternity and Emergency” Hospital, with a $1,000,000 pledge to support expansion of maternity services, providing half of the funding needed to reach the $2 million goal.
Della Penna Pediatrics (2014–2015) With plans to build an inpatient pediatric unit, Doylestown Hospital benefited from a visionary lead commitment from Louis and Carol Della Penna to help launch the $2+ million campaign. This effort set the stage for establishing a comprehensive pediatric program, offering care and services for children through pediatric outreach, emergency care, urgent care, outpatient specialty care, and pediatric diagnostic testing and services.
MRI Special Gifts Campaign (2014–2015) Philanthropic support for a new 3T MRI Unit with Ambient Experience enhances the patient experience in diagnostics.
ONE VISION: The Campaign for Doylestown Health (2018–2023) The first-ever comprehensive campaign, designed to coincide with the hospital’s centennial, raised more than $100 million, surpassing the initial goal of $75 million. The comprehensive campaign advanced all areas of the health system, beginning a new era of philanthropy.
In Gratitude
Now, one-hundred years of philanthropy comes full circle. Doylestown Health is part of the community, and the community is part of everything we do.
On behalf of the Boards of Trustees of Doylestown Hospital and Doylestown Health Foundation, we gratefully acknowledge each and every donor throughout our history whose generous support leads us into our second century of care.
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