One hundred years ago…
Life expectancy was 47 years, and more than 95% of births took place at home.
The leading causes of death were pneumonia and influenza, and antibiotics were a distant dream.
Even the way medicine was taught seems completely foreign to us now, with the majority of doctors back then having had no university training.
That was all about to change. In 1911, the University of Minnesota was on the pioneering edge of a new era of standardized medical instruction. With a gift of $115,000 from the family of Dr. Adolphus Elliot, a Minneapolis doctor whose real estate holdings proved to be quite valuable, the University’s first independent teaching hospital was born.
In what was then named the Elliot Memorial Hospital – known today as the Mayo Building – students learned the latest medical techniques while providing care to the needy free of charge.
The total cost of the new modern teaching facility was $155,000, with the remaining $40,000 granted from the state legislature, which also supplied $44,000 for equipment. Thirty-eight prominent Minneapolis individuals donated the $42,000 needed to purchase the land.
“We owe so much to the foresight and commitment of those leaders of the day,” said Aaron Friedman, senior vice president of Health Sciences and dean of the Medical School. “What they did transformed the practice of medicine in Minnesota, and it’s an investment we continue to build on 100 years later.”
The hospital was the first building to be erected on the new campus, and was the central focus of a group of subsequent medical buildings.
University and community leaders dedicated the hospital on Sept. 5. A week later, patients were moved from temporary quarters in nearby old buildings, which remained on campus to house interns, hospital attendants and students in the newly formed School of Nursing.
What started out as a 115-bed hospital with 3 focus areas – internal medicine, surgery and obstetrics – has evolved into the University of Minnesota Medical Center, a multi-location facility with nearly 2,000 beds and dozens of specialties.
Indeed, this little teaching hospital lit the torch for what is now our Academic Health Center, which encompasses six schools and colleges and serves more than 6,000 students annually on multiple campuses.
While we’ve come a long way from that first teaching hospital, we remain true to its original mission: to be a premier teaching facility serving the community.
In fact, we’ve refined our commitment to improving the health of low-income families through efforts like the Center for Health Disparities Research, which aims to level to playing field for regional minorities. And its spirit of innovation remains strong, as exemplified in our new Biomedical Discovery District and world-class research.
The University will celebrate this milestone on Monday, October 3 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on the Mayo Plaza. All faculty, staff and students are invited to enjoy music, ice cream and tours of the newly constructed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility below the plaza. Vice President Aaron Friedman will unveil the original brass plaques from the 1911 dedication of Elliot Memorial Hospital, which will be incorporated into the newly landscaped plaza. Leaders from Fairview and University of Minnesota Physicians will also be on-hand to help celebrate this milestone.