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New Book Highlights History of Baystate Medical Center

SPRINGFIELD — The roots of Baystate Medical Center date back to the formative years of the modern American hospital, when, under the name of Springfield City Hospital in 1873, it was one of only 178 acute-care hospitals in the country. Today, that number has grown to more than 5,000, and along with it can be counted a number of contributions from Baystate Medical Center, which are now considered critical elements of everyday healthcare, including fast-track cardiac surgery and an innovative chronic-care floor.

Now those accomplishments and more are highlighted in a newly published history book, titled Baystate Medical Center. It traces the people, buildings, and events that form the basis of Baystate Medical Center and the important role it has played in the evolution of the healthcare industry from the 19th century through today.

Written by Dr. Thomas L. Higgins, vice chair of the Department of Medicine at Baystate Medical Center, and Linda Baillargeon, manager of the hospital’s Internal Medicine Residency Programs, the book features vintage images and facts that capture bygone times and help bring to life the people, places, and events that defined Baystate Medical Center and the Springfield community.

Published in December by Arcadia Publishing — the leading local history publisher in the U.S., with a catalog of more than 9,000 titles in print — the book is part of its Images of America series. Since its inception in 1993, the series has preserved and shared the history of hundreds of individual communities throughout the country. The Baystate Medical Center history book features more than 200 images, beginning from the late 1800s, gathered from hospital archives at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History and at Baystate Medical Center.

“The book was originally envisioned to be only about the Department of Medicine at Baystate. It was going to be a gift that we would give to our medicine residents to remember us by,” said Higgins. “As our research delved deeper into the department and the hospital, we discovered there were so many more stories worth telling, and the book grew in scope.”

He added, “during our research, I was inspired by the philanthropic history behind the establishment of Springfield Hospital, with major donations by Chester and Dorcas Chapin and monies from Daniel and Cynthia Wesson to support both the Hampden Homeopathic and Wesson Maternity hospitals. I was also fascinated with the architectural history of the buildings that make up Baystate, including the fact that the original Springfield Hospital is still standing as part of the medical center.”

Baystate Medical Center was established in 1976 with the merger of the Medical Center of Western Massachusetts and Wesson Memorial Hospital. Baystate’s long history can be traced back to its earliest origins as Springfield City Hospital, which was renamed Springfield Hospital in 1883 and later moved to its current location on Chestnut Street in 1889.

The book, priced at $21.99, is available at the Marketplace at Baystate Medical Center, as well as on amazon.com, or directly from the publisher at www.arcadiapublishing.com. All proceeds will benefit the hospital’s Internal Medicine Residency Education & Research Fund. For more information about Baystate Medical Center, visit baystatehealth.org/bmc.

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