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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

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