Location: West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield

Featured guests: Dr. Brian Johnson, president of West Penn Hospital, and Jason Roeback, chief operating officer

3 things that surprised me:

1. West Penn Hospital was incorporated in 1848 and its first facility opened in Polish Hill in 1853. In 1912, West Penn moved to its current location in Bloomfield. While completing renovations a few years ago, a construction crew found a set of pharmacy cases dating to the late 1800s. The cases were full of labeled vials, organized alphabetically, and many of them were still full of medicinal material. Dr. Johnson pointed out jars full of arsenic and other materials that we now know are poisonous.

2. Dr. Johnson pulled out some old ledgers from the hospital’s last century and explained that 100 years ago, many of West Penn’s patients were coming in with workplace injuries. Thousands of folks were admitted with burns and missing limbs due to the unsafe work conditions at steel mills and other industrial sites.

3. In 1862, the U.S. government took over West Penn and turned it into a military hospital for three years during the Civil War. More than 3,000 Union soldiers were treated at the hospital’s Polish Hill facility (not Confederate soldiers, which they mistakenly said during our interview). The government took over the hospital again during the 1918 flu pandemic.

One thing that didn’t make the final cut: The obstetrical program at West Penn delivers nearly 4,500 babies a year. A few weeks ago they also set a record when they had 55 in their new NICU.

Additional info: You can learn more about West Penn’s 175-year history and current facilities at its website.

Want more Yinzer Backstage Pass? Check out our visit to Motor Square Garden, current home of AAA and former home of a food market, boxing matches, auto shows, Pitt Basketball games and even a Louis Armstrong concert.