Department of Surgery History

After the endorsement by the Diocese for a Catholic hospital in Youngstown, a fund-raising project to raise $10,000 was held in 1910 to solicit the goal. In August 1911, property on the corner of Belmont and Park Avenue, which consisted of 3 frame houses, was purchased and remodeled for hospital use. An addition was made to one of the houses for the operating and sterilization rooms. The larger house was used as the sisters' residence and the smallest house served as a laundry and home for employees. The new hospital was named St. Elizabeth Hospital in honor of the charity work done by St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The hospital was formally dedicated on November 26, 1911, and received its first patient on December 8, 1911. 

In 1912, a fund-raising campaign was held to build a new, permanent hospital structure just north of the original property. The total contributions exceeded $130,000.  The building (the present north wing), consisting of 6 floors and 200 beds, was completed in 1915 and was considered the most modern in the United States. The "operating pavilion" was located at the north end of the 5th floor and was given the highest rating by the American College of Surgeons. William Halstead, the founder of surgical residency training in the United states, was still alive in 1920 when Dr. Norm Gallagher of New Jersey became the first surgeon to complete his training in general surgery at St. Elizabeth Hospital. 

By 1925, the new hospital was no longer adequate to care for its patients. Surgical patients had to "wait their turn" and surgeons were unsure of when they could get operating room availability. A campaign was again held to raise $400,000, and a second wing (south wing) was completed in April 1929, bringing the bed total to 309 plus 50 cribs. The operating pavilion, still located on the 5th floor of the north wing, consisted of 4 large operating rooms, a "central dressing (sterile) room," and a "solution room" (for prepared and sterilized solutions). The 1930s saw the first surgical residents rotating at the hospital. 

In 1956, the west wing was added at a cost of over $2 million, and the hospital could now care for 500 patients. Many new progressive services were available, such as family-centered maternity, diagnostic cardiology, and open-heart surgery.  

In 1959, Dr. Angelo Riberi was the first in the area to study cardiovascular and thoracic surgery in Europe and performed surgery on laboratory animals to perfect new surgical techniques for cardiac blockage.  In 1961, the cardiovascular section was organized and directed by Dr. Angelo Riberi and Dr. Edmund Massullo; the surgery department was supplied with a heart-lung machine. In 1961, Dr. C. Edward Pichette became the first urologist to be president of the medical staff and served for 5 years in this capacity.  In 1962, the first successful open-heart surgery was performed by Drs. Riberi and Massullo on a two-year-old girl to close a large hole in her heart. There were 10,156 operations performed in 1962. In 1967, Youngstown surgical history was made when a 16-year-old boy became the first local person to have surgery for a condition known as "pheochromocytoma." 

The general surgery residency program at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital was formally approved by an accrediting agency in 1949 and was under the auspices of Medical Education. Dr. Riberi became the first Director of Surgical Education in 1962.

The west extension building opened in 1972, with a bed count of 747. In 1976, the South Extension building was completed, and St. Elizabeth's was now the largest single hospital facility between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The name of the hospital changed to St. Elizabeth Hospital Medical Center. 

NEOUCOM was established by the State of Ohio in 1973 and opened in 1976. The first medical students rotating in surgery started in 1981. 

In 1985, the Ambulatory Services Unit opened on the 6th floor of the West building to provide inpatient care for outpatient surgery patients. General surgeons were first credentialed to perform surgical endoscopy in 1985. Endourologic privileges were obtained by the urology section in 1985. A pilot program for a surgical holding area was given a 3-month trial period in 1985.  The hospital was verified as a level I trauma center in 1986 and has maintained that verification to the present day.  In the main OR, there were 16 surgery suites and 3 ambulatory surgery rooms.  In 1987, laser privileges were granted to surgeons and by 1991, ten different laser machines were available.  Also in 1987, orthopedic surgeons were given approval for orthopedic arthroscopy. In 1989, general surgeons were credentialed for privileges to insert Swan Ganz catheters. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy and appendectomy procedures were first performed here in 1990. Forty-three patients had renal transplants since the start of the transplant program in 1988. 

In 1992, the newest addition to the main hospital was completed and housed the Surgical Intensive Care Unit with 12 beds and the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit with 10 beds. In 1993, the Outpatient Surgery Center opened for outpatient surgical procedures, with 5 operating rooms, 5 endoscopy suites, and 2 laser rooms. The name of the hospital changed in 1996 to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital-Humility of Mary Health Services, and in 1999 to Humility of Mary Health Partners. 

A 15-hour course for ultrasound testing was held at the hospital in 1999, resulting in certification for 10 general surgeons. Bariatric surgery was performed here in 2002.  In 2005, percutaneous mesh was used by urologists to repair vaginal wall defects and prolapse. In 2006, an addition was built adjacent to the surgery suite of the main hospital to include 7 new operating rooms that are equipped with the latest technology, computerized charting and viewing, and flooring implanted with antibacterial agents. The renovation also included the construction of the South Pavilion Surgical Lobby, a waiting area for families of patients having surgery. The Pavilion consists of the lobby, the Espresso Café, and The Gift Shoppe. In 2006, the outpatient surgery department was transferred back to the main hospital from the Outpatient Surgery Center. 

The new, 108-bed St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital opened on August 1, 2007, with 5 operating rooms and 20 preoperative and secondary recovery beds, including inpatient, outpatient, cysto, and endoscopy services. Also in 2007, the da Vinci Surgical System, a state-of-the-art robotic surgical system was introduced to surgical patients for prostatectomy, cystectomy, and pyeloplasty. Partners for Urology Health, a comprehensive prostate cancer treatment center, was opened in May of 2009, focusing on state-of-the-art technology. 

Today, 2010, St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital is an acute care hospital with 550 beds and 60 bassinets. Recently, the vision of community and hospital leaders led to the announcement that an $8 million Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center will be built next year to be the only such center between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, to feature a multi-disciplinary team approach to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.