A Community Hospital Withstands Time
Highlands Hospital was originally named Cottage State Hospital and was built upon land Donated by Colonel J.M. Reid. It was transferred to a Board of Trustees in November of 1890. In 1891, a frame building resembling a large house with a wrap-around porch was Built on the corner of Cottage and Murphy Avenues. The first patient was admitted on January 31st 1891. The number of nurses and other employees was 13 and there were 8 members on the Medical Staff. The hospital bed capacity was 38 patients.
The Hospital came under state ownership and was one of the many hospitals established for coal miners. It was renamed Connellsville State General Hospital and in 1927 the original building was replaced with a “modern” red- brick structure which still stands as the West Wing and houses one of the Medical Surgical Units, and both Mental Health Units.
The red-brick structure currently referred to as the East Wing was built in 1953 to serve as a nurses’ residence. It now houses administration and related functions such as payroll, accounting, human resources, education and employee health.
The Central Wing was added in 1963, as services expanded, and included additional inpatient rooms as well as a new surgical suite and new Emergency Room. The East and Central Wing were at one time connected by a bridge that ran from 2-East to 2-Central.
With the economy, population and area industry dwindling in the 70’s, the State’s focus on owning and managing healthcare facilities waned. After years of speculation that the Hospital would be closed, the State divested itself of control of the “Connellsville State Hospital” and turned over ownership and management of the facility to the local community. It was the first of eight state-owned hospitals to go under private control. Local politicians, medical staff members, hospital auxiliary, hospital club, employees and community members worked tirelessly to see a local hospital remain in the City.
On September 7, 1985 , Highlands Hospital began as a community owned not for profit institution and a member of the Forbes Health System. The divestiture agreement provided that to ensure stability and success of the new institution, a local Board would oversee it and a partnership with an established healthcare organization would be required. Forbes Health System was chosen so that the Hospital could benefit in many ways from its size and expertise, yet still maintain local control and identity.
Following 10 years of growth and improvements to its facilities, services and technology, Highlands Hospital separated from Forbes Health Systems in order to focus more the changing needs and issues of local health care. A 3-year partnership with nearby Frick Hospital as the “Fay West Health System” resulted in 1997 but the affiliation ended in 2000.
Today, Highlands Hospital operates as an independent, not-for-profit acute care hospital. It is the second largest employer in Connellsville with over 400 employees and 71 patient beds. It has been located on this site providing healthcare services to the community for over 120 years, striving to keep quality care and top technology close to home.