Looking Back at HCGH as Columbia Turns 50

Howard County General Hospital Main Entrance

Histoical photo of Howard County General Hopital’s main entrance.

The Howard County community is commemorating Columbia’s 50th anniversary, which has made us nostalgic for the early days of Howard County Community Hospital. When our hospital opened its doors to the first patients in 1973 – four admitted inpatients, in fact – the community of Columbia was in its infancy and consisted mainly of vast and undeveloped farmland. As the area was undergoing a transformation, Columbia’s visionary founder, James Rouse, realized that residents of the new town would need convenient medical care and a superior hospital that could deliver innovative and exceptional health care to residents. He wanted a health care delivery system as unique as the model city rising in the heart of a farming community.

So, in 1973, the county’s first community hospital opened as a 59-bed facility on the edge of farm land in the yet-to-be developed town of Columbia. Before anyone knew us as Howard County General Hospital, we were known as The Columbia Hospital and Clinics Foundation. The hospital was designed to provide inpatient support for members of the Columbia Medical Plan, providing short-term care, such as overnight stays, infant deliveries and simple surgery. Patients suffering serious illnesses were transferred to the large, specialty teaching hospitals in Baltimore. Even before the hospital opened, however, the local medical community realized that Howard County needed a full-service hospital. Within a year, the facility was turned over to a community-based board of trustees and became a private, not-for-profit institution, a model hospital in a model community.

Much has changed over the last 50 years. Columbia is a vibrant, diverse community and Howard County General Hospital is now a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. We’ve grown to become a leading acute-care medical center with 264 licensed beds, seeing more than 730 patients a day. Our hospital has also become a leading employer in the area with 1,900 full and part-time employees including more than 950 physicians and allied health professionals, representing nearly 100 sub-specialties. This past year alone, we provided service to more than 220,000 people, including: 3,597 babies born, 78,072 emergency room visits, 12,390 surgeries performed and 68,680 people treated in outpatient services.

Steve Snelgrove, HCGH’s President summed up the milestone, saying, “Celebrating the 50th birthday of Columbia and looking back at our past reminds us of what an amazing and special place our hospital is in Howard County. As we look to the future, my hope for our hospital is that we have systems of care in place to ensure that care is delivered flawlessly and that we achieve the outcomes that our patients deserve every time. ”

Cheers to Columbia’s 50th birthday. Howard County General Hospital is honored to have cared for generations of families in Columbia, and throughout the county!