Ashtabula County Medical Center's history began because the community saw a lack of medical care when it was needed most. Its story began out of the tragedy known as the Ashtabula Train Disaster of 1876. Community members recognized that a calamity of that magnitude could happen again and the community needed to be able to respond. They combined resources, manpower and expertise to start the first hospital in Ashtabula.
In 1882, a small emergency hospital opened to care for injured railroad workers. Work immediately began to raise funds for a permanent facility. On June 20, 1904, Ashtabula General Hospital opened its doors, at a cost to build of $14,500. Those early hospital founders rallied the community to furnish equipment and amenities for four wards, six private rooms, two operating rooms, administrative offices, a kitchen, a boiler room, a laundry room and more.
Throughout those early years, the Ashtabula community was called upon regularly to raise funds for the newest equipment of the day. Thanks to that support, the hospital also added a nursing school and a new patient wing.
But that support was put to the test during the Great Depression, when the hospital doors were almost closed for good. The electric plant from which the hospital received its steam for heating and sterilizing instruments was to be shut down in favor of a new facility to be constructed a few miles away. Ashtabula city leaders offered $30,000 in revenue, which was set aside in an Electric Light Surplus Fund. The city and hospital split the cost of building a new steam plant, and the hospital was saved.
The demand for improved medical care continued into the '40s and '50s. The population of Ashtabula had grown from 27,000 to 45,000 by the mid-1940s. Bed space in the hospital was at a premium, yet the need to support a growing baby boomer industrial society was constant.
In 1947, a push was made to build a brand-new hospital for Ashtabula. It was touted as a modern, state of-the-art facility with expanded maternity services to handle the increased births, and with all the other technological advancements needed in a modern society. Ashtabula citizens responded to a request for assistance—obviously seeing the need for a hospital to handle their growing, bustling city. In all, more than $700,000 was raised from around Ashtabula County in just 10 days. With additional funds coming in from government sources, a trust fund donation of $400,000 and additional money raised before construction, a new 160-bed, three-unit hospital opened its doors in 1952 at a cost of $2 million.
The new Ashtabula General was praised as a symbol of what Ashtabula citizens could accomplish when they worked together. Over the next decade, Ashtabula General reinforced its commitment to improving healthcare by bringing new innovations to Ashtabula.
In 1957, the Department of Radiology began using radioactive isotopes to study thyroid illnesses and later also included x-rays and other diagnostic advancements. A new four-story wing was planned in 1960 to include a new psychiatric unit, a nursing unit for geriatric patients and those with chronic illnesses, a 40-bed nursing unit for acutely ill patients, a physical therapy unit, house physician services, an x-ray department, new office space, a chapel, a medical library, and more. The total construction cost was nearly $2 million, and the new building opened its doors in 1963.
Through the remainder of the 1960s and into the 1970s, the growth of Ashtabula County continued, and the demands increased on the hospital to stay current with technology and services. Emergency services, intensive care units, a nuclear medicine facility, ambulatory services and more were continually updated and expanded.
The hospital continued to grow throughout the 1970s into the 1980s with the addition of a new pharmacy, a central sterile supply, materials handling, maintenance facilities and more. As Ashtabula General continued to grow, it also faced new challenges.
Healthcare was moving from reacting to the health needs of the community to providing preventive medical care as well. As part of this change, the Ashtabula General Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the facility to Ashtabula County Medical Center (ACMC). In 1985, ACMC added a new Cardiac Services Department. Heart attacks and other cardiac problems have long plagued Ashtabula County, and—as noted in a recent Community Health Needs Assessment—those heart problems remain a major cause of illness and death today.
In the early 1990s, discussions of healthcare reform began on a national level. Leadership at ACMC did not wait for the federal government to take the lead on a new system. They created one to benefit all of Ashtabula County by merging The Ashtabula Clinic, a group of family and specialty physicians, with ACMC. This was a new model of an integrated physician-hospital delivery system for improved healthcare.
The Ashtabula Clinic physicians handled all outpatient cases, while hospital physicians handled all inpatient cases. ACMC patients now have access to more than 70 ACMC and Cleveland Clinic physicians—as well as nurse practitioners—at The Ashtabula Clinic and more than 90 local physicians who have privileges at ACMC. The Ashtabula Clinic has grown to include offices in Ashtabula, Ashtabula Harbor, Conneaut, Geneva, Jefferson, as well as a Women's Health Center in Ashtabula.
In 2001, the ACMC Board of Trustees voted to enter into an affiliation with Cleveland Clinic, long known as a benchmark for quality healthcare. The affiliation meant access to more physicians and services.
The Cleveland Clinic Cardiac Catheterization Lab at ACMC opened in 2008. This gave Ashtabula County patients access to the gold standard in heart diagnostics to detect blockages and other potential problems before they became an emergency. Other accomplishments in the 2000s include a renovated Maternity Suite, the only labor and delivery unit in Ashtabula County; a new Behavioral Medicine Unit and the only inpatient service in the county; and new technology for our Radiology Department.
ACMC has also spent millions of dollars for new digital mammography equipment, new endoscopes, and more technology and procedures to provide better healthcare through minimally invasive surgery.
1876 to 1899
- 1876: Great train disaster enforces need for community hospital.
- 1882: Ladies Railroad Auxiliary formed to care for patients in the temporary hospital.
- 1892: Ladies Hospital League undertakes effort to establish a proper hospital.
1900 to 1999
- 1902: Ashtabula General Hospital Association is organized.
- 1904: Ashtabula General Hospital opens on June 20; the first patient is seen just after midnight.
- 1907: First class of nurses graduates from the nursing school.
- 1911: North Wing erected as nurses' home.
- 1930: Amelia Lewis Nurses Home erected.
- 1947: Campaign launched to build new 150-bed hospital; modern building opens five years later.
- 1952: Ashtabula General Hospital cuts ribbon on expanded, modern facility.
- 1957: AGH enters atomic age, using radioactive isotopes to diagnoses thyroid problems
- 1963: Ashtabula General Hospital expands to 226 beds.
- 1975: South Wing opens.
- 1983: Ashtabula General Hospital officially changes its name to Ashtabula County Medical Center.
- 1985: New cardiac services department added, along with new maternity birthing rooms that offered homelike feel along with special equipment for critically ill babies.
- 1994: ACMC affiliates with The Cleveland Clinic Foundation to bring anesthesia and pain management services to the county; ACMC acquires Glenbeigh Hospital.
- 1995: ACMC and The Ashtabula Clinic merge; ACMC receives the Best of the County Award from the Growth Partnership of Ashtabula County.
- 1995: ACMC brings Cleveland Clinic pathologists and radiologists to Ashtabula County.
- 1998: ACMC becomes an affiliate member of the Cleveland Clinic Health System.
2000 to Present
- 2003: Joint Replacement Center and Behavioral Medicine Unit open; outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy services relocated to ACMC campus.
- 2004: ACMC celebrates 100 years of caring for the community; the hospital also received the Best of the County President's Award from Growth Partnership.
- 2008: The Cleveland Clinic Cardiac Catheterization Lab at ACMC opens.
- 2009: The ACMC Wound Healing Center opens.
- 2010-14: ACMC is named a Top Workplace in the Cleveland Clinic metro area.
- 2011: ACMC adds oncology and hematology services.
- 2012: New digital mammography and MRI equipment gives ACMC some of the most technologically advanced testing equipment in our area.
- 2014: Conneaut Family Health Center opens; Jefferson Family Health Center doubles in size—both offer lab, x-ray, and family physicians, while Conneaut also offers walk-in mammography.
- 2015: ACMC begins Express Care in Ashtabula, Conneaut, and Jefferson.
- 2016: Geneva Family Health Center opens with family practice, Express Care, lab, and specialty providers.
- 2018: Ashtabula Family Health Center opens in former Ashtabula Plaza (now the Ashtabula Health & Wellness Plaza).
ACMC's commitment to our community comes from the same vision of those Ashtabula citizens who long ago saw the need for great medical care in their hometown and came together to build ACMC.