Summa Health: Storied history built on giving
Blacksmith's estate gift led to opening of original City Hospital
The Bartges Mansion was the original home of Akron City Hospital
In 1892, as the industrial era was cranking up, an ordinary citizen and blacksmith, Boniface DeRoo, recognized the need in Akron to establish a place where everyone, regardless of race, creed or ability to pay, could go for healing.
His vision and the extraordinary gift of his entire estate, along with the generosity and leadership of countless others, led to the creation of Akron City Hospital — an institution that has shaped the culture, character and well-being of the Greater Akron community since its inception.
In its first year of operation, City Hospital performed 40 operations, had 21 beds and cared for 143 patients who had an average hospital stay of 15-17 days. In the decades that followed, the hospital merged with St. Thomas Medical Center and became Summa Health. The milestones of those rich, united histories were many:
- A cure for hemlock poisoning and a breakthrough treatment for spinal meningitis
- Free clinics for the public
- The founding of Alcoholics Anonymous by Dr. Bob Smith
- The first accredited radiology department in the country
- Pioneering orthopedic instruments, techniques and surgical practices
- Akron's first corneal transplant and adult open-heart procedure
Recent gifts accelerate system progress
Ann and the late David Brennan
In more recent years, Summa Health has expanded services in Barberton and at multiple community locations throughout Summit, Portage and Medina counties. Its tradition of giving has endured, as numerous benefactors have accelerated the health system’s progress in serving its community better:
- 2018: The Women's Board of Summa Health and the Women's Board of St. Thomas together have raised nearly $10 million, and their members have volunteered more than 350,000 hours for hospital programs and patient services.
- 2017: Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams make a $5 million gift to Summa Health, becoming the first benefactors to be honored with a named space in the new patient tower — the Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Center for Breast Health.
- 2017: Jim and Vanita Oelschlager establish the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Chair in Traumatic Stress, currently held by Patrick Palmieri, Ph.D.
- 2015: Ann and David Brennan make a historic $6 million gift, bringing their total giving to Summa Health to more than $10 million.
- 2014: Vincent and Nancy DiGirolamo make an additional gift of $2 million to enhance the services of the Summa Health Cancer Institute and further support their endowed chair in oncology, bringing their total giving to Summa Health to nearly $4 million.
- 2013: Richard M. and Yvonne Hamlin provide a generous $4 million gift to construct the Richard M. and Yvonne Hamlin Hybrid Operating Room Suite on the Akron Campus, expanding options for advanced cardiovascular care in Akron.
- 2008: The Jean and Milton Cooper Pavilion opens as a centralized location for comprehensive cancer care, with a lead gift from Milton Cooper, D.D.S., in honor of his late wife, Jean.
- 2007: The first endowed chairs at Summa Health are established: the Vincent and Nancy DiGirolamo Endowed Chair in Oncology, currently held by Gilbert Padula, M.D.; and the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Endowed Chair in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, currently held by Joseph Varley, M.D.
- 2006: A generous gift from Ann and David Brennan takes the lead in establishing the Ann and David Brennan Pavilion, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the delivery of critical care for the Akron region.
Summa Health Foundation
Summa Health Foundation is dedicated to extending this legacy of giving to advance compassionate, coordinated care at Summa Health. Every gift makes a difference in the lives of those we serve today and for generations to come.
For more information about giving to Summa Health, please call 330.375.3159 or contact one of our staff members.