For more than 120 years, Erlanger has been central to the lives of generations of Chattanooga families-where their children were born, where they found the latest treatments for injury and disease, and where the majority of the region's doctors and nurses were trained.
Erlanger was founded through the generosity of a French nobleman in 1889. Baron Frederic Emile d'Erlanger, who held financial interests in a number of railroads in this region, donated $5,000 for a new hospital. In today's dollars, this donation would equal more than $4 million.
Appreciative citizens named the hospital for the Baron's beautiful Southern wife, Baroness Marguerite Mathilde Slidell. The cornerstone for the Baroness Erlanger Hospital was laid in 1891. In 1899 the $50,000 hospital opened with 72 beds.
Soon after its opening, Erlanger formed one of the state's first nursing schools and developed a partnership with Chattanooga Medical College, now the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Erlanger greeted the 20th century as an academic teaching facility, a distinction the hospital maintains today. Nurses and nursing technicians are trained at Erlanger in conjunction with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State and other regional colleges, and doctors are trained through an affiliation with the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center (UTHSC) Medical School - Chattanooga.
By 1940, the hospital had doubled in size and opened the area's first center for cancer treatment, and the Erlanger Cancer Center remains a leader in serving the region today. The region's first open-heart surgery was performed at Erlanger in 1960, and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease became and continues as a core service.
Erlanger has always led the region in maternity care and now offers two delivery locations. Erlanger East Hospital on Gunbarrel Road features 17 spacious birthing suites, as well a Level 2-A Intermediate Special Care Nursery. Baroness Hospital, also a major maternity center, is home to the region's only tertiary Level III care center for high-risk obstetrics.
The area's first kidney transplant was performed at Erlanger in the 1980's, and the service is still available only through our Nephrology & Kidney Transplant Center. The 1980's also brought facial reconstructive expertise to Erlanger, resulting in the Cleft and Craniofacial Center. Other distinctions include a wide array of Intensive Care Units, a Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC), an Orthopaedic Center of Excellence, and a multi-specialty Heart and Lung Institute.
Children's Hospital at Erlanger (originally T. C. Thompson Children's Hospital), founded as a separate facility in 1929, became part of Erlanger and moved to the Baroness Campus in 1975. A Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center, the highest designation in the state, Children's Hospital has physicians in virtually every pediatric subspecialty. The Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit provides the region's highest level of care for premature and sick infants.
Today, Erlanger encompasses six hospitals - Erlanger North, Erlanger East, Erlanger Bledsoe, Erlanger Western Carolina, and Erlanger Baroness Hospital in downtown Chattanooga that includes the campus of Children's Hospital. The system runs three community health centers, 25 Primary Care locations, eight ExpressCare walk-in centers, and numerous specialty clinics.
We are also now the region's only Level I Trauma Center supported by the region's only air ambulance, LIFE FORCE. This enables Erlanger to extend its lifesaving reach to patients from 50 counties within a 150-mile radius.
Much has changed in 120 years. But one thing remains constant - our commitment to compassionate care. This is still the foundation of Erlanger's growth and success. And it's the reason we look forward to an even brighter future compassionately serving the health needs of our region.