Montefiore Hospital was a healthcare facility created to provide culturally sensitive care for Jewish patients and also to provide professional opportunities for Jewish healthcare providers. The hospital provided care to all regardless of race, ethnicity or background.
Annie Jacobs Davis founded the Hebrew Ladies Hospital Aid Society in 1898 to raise funds and to garner support for a Jewish hospital in Pittsburgh. The group ultimately raised more than $25,000 toward an initial $64,000 fundraising campaign and remained a crucial fundraising and advocacy organization for the hospital. It purchased a lot in the Hill District across from Passavant Hospital in 1902 but ultimately determined that the property was too small to accommodate the project. The Montefiore Hospital Association was chartered in early 1905, also to support efforts toward establishing the hospital. The two associations officially affiliated with each other in 1907 and converted the former Blackmore property at the corner of Centre Avenue and Herron Avenue into a hospital.
The first Montefiore Hospital was dedicated on May 24 and 25, 1908. The three-story building had space for as many as 75 patients and spacious grounds. It had modern furnishings and appliances, as well as two kitchens in accordance with kosher dietary conventions. The building was expanded in time to include a radiology department and an outpatient annex, as well as improved laundry facilities and a staff dietician. In the early 1920s, it was expanded again to include a dispensary, a preventive health center, and a social service department. The Montefiore Hospital School for Nurses opened in 1909. It accepted 23 students its first year and graduated eight nurses the following year.
Montefiore Hospital experienced constant growth in demand in its early years, as the population of Pittsburgh increased and the city faced major medical issues such as the 1918 influenza pandemic and the return of soldiers from World War I. The hospital launched the Montefiore Hospital Campaign in 1924 to raise $1.5 million toward the construction of a new building. Following a “silent drive” lasting several months, the active campaign ran from October 25 to November 3, 1924 with the slogan “Give With All Thy Heart.” Approximately 1,000 campaign workers throughout the city were organized as an “army of solicitation,” with generals, majors, colonels, captains, and lieutenants led by “Commander in Chief” Albert C. Lehman. The effort vastly surpassed its target, generating $2,226,907. The new Montefiore Hospital (Schmidt, Garden & Eriksen, architects; H. Miller & Sons Co., general contractors) at Fifth Avenue and Darragh Street in Oakland was dedicated July 14-17, 1929. The facility included a six-story lower level on Fifth Avenue and an upper level with room for 190 patients.
The physical plant of the hospital expanded greatly in the 1950s and 1960s. A teaching wing with 32 beds was opened in 1950 in memory of Ensign William Ira Adelman. An Institute of Research was founded with funding from the Anathan family, the estate of Leo Lehman, the Maurice and Laura Falk foundation, and Mrs. Jessie Keyt McCready. The Liliane S. Kaufmann School of Nursing Residence opened in 1953. Amy P. Frank donated $1,000,000 in 1962 for a new wing, in memory of her parents, Samuel and Ettie Klein Frank. One year later, a house staff residence was opened and much later was named in memory of librarian Elizabeth May Beal. A parking garage was added in 1965.
With its proximity to educational facilities in Oakland, and its history as a training facility, Montefiore Hospital was increasingly inclined to form relationships with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Discussions began as early as 1923 but faced opposition for decades. A formal relationship began in 1940s and 1950s, when Montefiore Hospital offered a physical diagnosis course for University of Pittsburgh medical students, and the University of Pittsburgh began sending students to Montefiore Hospital for training in general surgery. In 1969, Montefiore Hospital joined the University Health Center of Pittsburgh (UHCP), which included Presbyterian-University, Eye and Ear, Magee-Women’s, and Children’s Hospitals and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. The University of Pittsburgh purchased Montefiore Hospital in 1990 for $145,000,000. About half of the earnings were used to retire an existing bond. The remainder was used to establish the Montefiore Foundation, which later became known as the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. In the years after the sale, Montefiore Hospital became known as Montefiore-University Hospital and then as UPMC-Montefiore.