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HAP through the Years: 1920–1930

February 19, 2021

During 2021, The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) proudly marks its centennial with a look back at 100 years of milestones, advocacy, and support for Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems.

During our centennial, we will celebrate “100 Years Toward Better Health,” while reflecting on the historic moments that have shaped our organization. Throughout this series, you will notice the enduring challenges, ambitions, and threads that have linked Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems, as well as the overwhelming advances in care that have improved the health of our community.

This week, we provide a snapshot of HAP’s first decade, and the beginning of the association’s story:

The 1920s

HAP’s Founding:  World War I marked a significant shift in the health care landscape, as advances in medical care changed Americans’ perspective about the role of hospitals in society. With new breakthroughs in technology and clinical techniques, hospitals offered hope for recovery for patients and emerged as anchors within their communities.

Responding to these changes, a group of hospital administrators convened in Harrisburg on December 7, 1921, with 34 charter members signing on to the newly formed organization.

Statement of Purpose:  Much from HAP’s original mission remains intact from its early days. In their constitution and bylaws, the founders identified the importance of strong health systems “to promote the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Fostering a spirit of cooperation among the state’s hospitals was key to this mission, they noted.

First President:  Daniel D. Test, superintendent of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia

Medical Developments:  The use of gas anesthesia advanced significantly during the 1920s, leading to improved outcomes during surgery. The fluoroscope also gained traction to help clinicians detect the presence of foreign bodies.

Fun Fact:  HAP’s first conference occurred May 18–19, 1922, at the Penn Harris Hotel in Harrisburg. The topics of the day included “cooperative hospital buying, hospital economics, team work in a General Hospital, nursing problems, and The Department of Welfare and its Relation to the Hospitals of Pennsylvania.”

Quotable:  “Why are your hospitals making a success in this great state? Why is your influence being felt for proper direction of hospital policy throughout this state? There is just one answer … it is because you are well organized,” said Dr. Malcolm T. MacEachern, president of the American Hospital Association, during an early HAP conference.