When Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh opened its burn center in 1967, it was the first in the state of Pennsylvania, and just the 14th in the United States.
Twenty years later, the hospital established a trauma center that would become today’s UPMC Mercy Trauma Center— a recognized leader in high quality trauma care.
UPMC Mercy is the only hospital in western Pennsylvania with a comprehensive burn center and Level 1 trauma center under one roof.
As the burn center celebrates 50 years of providing compassionate and innovative burn care to the community, here’s a look back on its history of pioneering treatment.
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UPMC Mercy Burn Center Timeline
- 1967 – Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh opens the first burn center in Pennsylvania under the direction of Charles E. Copeland, MD. Between its opening in 1967 and May 1970, the unit treated 125 patients.
- 1971 – The newly remodeled and specially equipped burn center opens in Mercy Hospital, funded by a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Hospital Administrator Sr. M. Ferdinand Clark applied for the grant, which allowed the unit to acquire specialty equipment such as a whirlpool bath, circo-electric rotational beds, and automatic cardiac monitors. The unit also added an infectious disease doctor to its staff to begin burn-related research.
- 1980 – Mercy Hospital identifies the need for additional burn center renovations and upgrades. It was treating nearly 170 patients annually, including residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
- 1981 – Hospital Executive Director Sr. Joanne Marie Andiorio applies to receive the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation grant a second time. After receiving the grant, Mercy Hospital opens a newly renovated burn center that includes patient showers, televisions in patient rooms, x-ray boxes, and stainless steel patient bathing tables (which replaced outdated whirlpool baths).
- 1987 – Mercy Hospital’s trauma services department, now the UPMC Mercy Trauma Center, is established, encompassing the Mercy Burn Center.
- 2004 – H. Ross Perot awards a $1.4 million grant to open a new, nine-bed, 9,000-square-foot critical care burn center in honor of his wife’s parents— his first grant designated outside the state of Texas. The newly designed, upgraded unit is dedicated as the Gertrude P. and Donald C.W. Birmingham Burn Center.
- 2008 – UPMC acquires Mercy Hospital.
- 2017 – UPMC Mercy Burn Center celebrates 50 years. It is one of only 68 American Burn Association-verified burn centers in the nation. The center uses a multidisciplinary approach that brings experts in plastic surgery, wound care, rehabilitation, and emotional support together to provide the best comprehensive burn care for patients and their families. The UPMC Mercy Trauma Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
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About Trauma & Emergency Medicine
Emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye or in a heartbeat. And when they do, minutes matter. UPMC’s Emergency Medicine and Trauma Care services are ready to provide world-class care, no matter how serious your emergency. All our Emergency Departments have a full-time staff of emergency specialists at the ready 24 hours a day. We use advanced technology to diagnose and treat your condition and coordinate with your doctor to provide the best care possible. We also have specialized trauma care at several of our hospitals. If you or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest Emergency Department.