HUP, SOM, UPHS ? I’m sort of confused

Dear Benny,
I’m a little bit confused about the hospitals that fall under the Health System. What are they and when exactly did Penn start running so many of them? Where does the Medical School fit into all of this? And what exactly is Penn Medicine?
—Muddled About Medicine

Dear Slightly Confused,
It's not hard to see how all of the labels can get confusing for the layperson. According to Rick Cushman, a news officer at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, it breaks down like this: The Health System includes three hospitals (Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Pennsylvania Hospital), clinics at Radnor and Cherry Hill, PennCare practices, home care and hospice services and affiliations with area community hospitals. Penn Medicine includes the Health System and the School of Medicine.

Now, for the history. According to George E. Thomas and David B. Brownlee in their book, "Building America's First University," Pennsylvania Hospital, the first in the nation—founded in 1751 by Ben Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond— merged with the Health System in 1997. Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, at 39th and Market streets, was founded in 1871 by the Alliance of Philadelphia Presbyteries and in 1995 became a member of UPHS.

The School of Medicine was the first medical school in the colonies and opened in 1765, when students enrolled for "anatomical lectures" at the College of Philadelphia, Penn's pre-Revolutionary name.


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Originally published on October 5, 2006