History & Milestones

According to Mary Witkowski, head of historical collections at the Bridgeport Public Library, it was on March 15, 1878 that famous showman and former Bridgeport Mayor P.T. Barnum and other community leaders obtained the state legislature's approval to incorporate Bridgeport Hospital. Shortly after, a Board of Directors was named and Barnum was elected as its first president.

Bridgeport Hospital circa 1900

But the hospital's story really begins a few years earlier, when Columbia Medical School graduate Dr. George Lewis returned from the Civil War and set up his practice in Bridgeport. At that time, the closest thing to a hospital in the city was the basement of the future police headquarters, where infection and mortality rates were high among the emergency patients and poor residents who received care there.

Dr. Lewis persuaded his aunt, Susan Hubbell, to bequeath $13,500 and an acre at the top of Mill Hill for the construction of a real hospital. Ground was broken for the new hospital in 1883, and on Nov. 12, 1884, Bridgeport Hospital began treating patients. It was the first hospital in Fairfield County and only the third in Connecticut along with Yale-New Haven Hospital (then known as New Haven Hospital) and Hartford Hospital.

Bridgeport Hospital today

From its humble beginnings in a 19th century cow pasture, Bridgeport Hospital, built for about $120,000, has grown into a $467 million regional healthcare organization, serving 18,000 inpatients and over 277,000 outpatients a year.

Historical Firsts

first nursing school in Fairfield County (1884)

first Chest Pain Center in Connecticut (1994)

first Pediatric Unit in Fairfield County (1890s)

first use of coronary stents in Fairfield County (1994)

first medical use of X-rays in Connecticut (1890s)

first intravascular ultrasound in Fairfield County (1995)

first Radiology Department in Connecticut (early 1900s)

first Level One Trauma Center in Fairfield County (1996)

first Occupational Therapy Department in Connecticut (early 1900s)

first bloodless medicine and surgery program in Fairfield County (1998)

first surgery to repair a detached retina in the United States (1930s)

first off-pump cardiac bypass surgery in Fairfield County (1999)

first diagnostic cardiac catheterization in Fairfield County (1961)

first fully digital cardiac catheterization lab in Connecticut (1999)

first open-heart surgery in Fairfield County (1964)

first implantable defibrillator for the treatment of sudden death (1990s)

first pacemaker implant in Fairfield County (1960s)

first pacemaker implanted to treat congestive heart failure (2001)

first cardiac intensive care unit in Fairfield County (1960s)

first cardiac ablation procedure in Fairfield County (2001)

first total hip replacement surgery in Fairfield County (1970)

first use of drug-coated coronary stents in Fairfield County (2001)

first dedicated Burn Center in Connecticut (1972)

first capsule endoscopy in Fairfield County to diagnose gastrointestinal conditions (2003)

first Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Fairfield County (1972)

first Mini Maze minimally invasive surgery in Fairfield County to treat atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder (2006)

first balloon angioplasty in Fairfield County (1981)

first gender-specific knee replacement surgery in Fairfield County (2006)

first helicopter-receiving hospital in Connecticut (1986)

first minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery in Fairfield County (2007)

first MRI Center in Fairfield County (1988)

first robotic mitral valve repair in Connecticut (2007)

first fetal echocardiography in Fairfield County (1991)

first radiofrequency ablation in Fairfield County to treat Barrett’s esophagus and prevent esophageal cancer (2008)

first excimer laser angioplasty in New England (1992)

first multi-person hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber in Fairfield County (2008)

first electrophysiology lab in Fairfield County (1992)

first in New England to perform hybrid ablation for atrial fibrillation (2011)