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Column: A History of Healthcare Excellence

Exactly 140 years ago this month – December 1872 – a woman of remarkable spirit, compassion and vision called upon a group of friends to help her open a hospital in the City of Alexandria. They formed the Alexandria Infirmary Association, which later became Alexandria Hospital — the first full-service hospital in Northern Virginia.

Our long and proud history includes many other “firsts” as well:

  • We performed the first local surgery in 1882, opened the first area nursing school in 1894, ushered in outpatient care with the region’s first dispensary in 1900, and moved medicine forward with the first clinical laboratories and X-ray units in 1921.

  • In 1961, we were the first hospital in the country to staff an emergency department around the clock with full-time, dedicated ER physicians. Known as The Alexandria Plan, it set the standard in emergency medicine nationally.

  • We were the first local hospital to offer full-body CT scanning, the first to combine labor, delivery and recovery in a single birthing room, and the first to open an MRI center.

  • We have moved cancer and cardiac care forward, opening the first peripheral vascular lab, performing the first prostate seed implants, and offering both Triology and NanoKnife technologies in Northern Virginia.

  • Last year, in partnership with generous local donors, we completed Project 2010, our ambitious expansion initiative to meet the community’s most pressing healthcare needs.

As we celebrate our 140th birthday, we honor the past and look forward to a bright and successful future. Much has changed, but much remains the same: the compassion and expertise of our hospital staff, and the commitment to safe, high quality healthcare for all who need it. The founders live on in The Board of Lady Managers, which continues to support the hospital today.

This is Julia Johns’ legacy and we are eternally grateful to her and the many individuals, past and present, who have made a notable contribution to advancing healthcare for the Alexandria community. They are the living tradition of community care that is the hallmark of our hospital.

Watch for our Alexandria Babies celebration, coming in 2013. If you were born at the hospital, or had a baby or grandchild here, we invite you to share stories and photos, and join us to celebrate a special mothers’ day in the spring. We’ll share more information soon.