Located on Peachtree Road in Atlanta’s Buckhead community, Piedmont Hospital has met the city’s health-care needs since the early twentieth century. The community has responded with generous support, helping Piedmont to become an enduring private, not-for-profit institution offering advanced, specialized care. Hospital earnings go directly into maintaining and improving services and facilities, as well as to educational outreach and research activities.
Piedmont Hospital began in 1905 as a ten-bed sanatorium located in a fifteen-room home at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Crumley Street in downtown Atlanta. Founded by Dr. Ludwig Amster, a specialist in gastrointestinal diseases, and Dr. Floyd W. McRae Sr., a surgeon, the sanatorium was chartered to provide the most modern medical care available in a comfortable, homelike setting, which its founders deemed critical to the healing process. That home-turned-hospital sat where the former Atlanta
In 1906 Amster and McRae hired Fort Gaines native Dr. James Edgar Paullin, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, as Piedmont’s house physician and pathologist. He established the sanatorium’s organizational and management operations, emphasizing a philosophy of quality over quantity that characterizes Piedmont to this day.
While the three physicians offered superb skills in their areas, they felt that their facility could not sufficiently meet the health care needs of the city’s burgeoning population (which would reach more than 150,000 by 1910). They began an aggressive expansion program that more than tripled the size of the staff within just one year. Recognizing the pivotal role that well-trained nurses play in quality health care, Piedmont founded Piedmont Sanatorium School for Nurses in 1905. The five women of its first graduating class were among the first nurses in Georgia to obtain licensure under the state legislature’s 1907 bill to regulate the practice of professional nursing.
In an era when medical specialization was limited, Piedmont set a new standard. With a solid staff of doctors, each a leader in his field, the sanatorium provided specialized yet integrated treatment. Paullin continually emphasized the importance of treating patients as people, not cases. From the beginning, Piedmont physicians were involved in the hospital’s development and administration, and its board of directors has always included a majority of physicians. While this concept of a physician-led organization was clearly ahead of its time, it worked, and has continued to work, for more than a century.
By the end of World War II (1941-45), the aging Capitol Avenue complex was insufficient for a staff of 127 physicians to serve a city that claimed more than 302,000 residents, according to the 1940 U.S. census. In 1953 the hospital purchased twenty-six acres along what is now Peachtree Road. The following year construction began on a $5 million, 250-bed facility made possible by contributions from the public. Georgia governor Herman Talmadge proclaimed it “another milestone in the progress of Atlanta, Georgia, and medical history.” In 1957 the hospital moved to its new location, where it has remained since.
In 1994 the hospital opened the Heart Center of Atlanta. The following year J. B. Fuqua, an Atlanta businessman, politician, and philanthropist, donated $3 million to the center, which was renamed the Fuqua Heart Center of Atlanta. In 1999 Fuqua donated an additional $3 million.
As of 2008 Piedmont is a 481-bed facility serving the metropolitan Atlanta area. The hospital employs 3,700 workers and a medical staff of more than 900 physicians. The recipient in 2006 and 2007 of a Distinguished Hospital Award for Patient Safety, awarded by the respected rating firm HealthGrades, Piedmont is an acute tertiary-care facility offering all major medical, surgical, and diagnostic services. Among its specialties are cardiovascular services, women’s services, oncology, orthopedics, neurosciences, and organ transplantation (kidney, pancreas, and liver). In 2008 HealthGrades named Piedmont Hospital as the Best in Atlanta for Overall Cardiac Care and Cardiac Surgery.
Piedmont Hospital is part of a growing family of health-care entities. It is the flagship institution of Piedmont Healthcare, which also includes Piedmont Fayette Hospital, a 143-bed community hospital in Fayetteville; Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, a 42-bed community hospital in Jasper; Piedmont Newnan Hospital, a 143-bed acute-care community hospital in Newnan; the Piedmont Heart Institute; the Piedmont Hospital Foundation; the Piedmont Physicians Group, with more than 75 primary-care physicians in a network of 23 offices throughout metropolitan Atlanta; and Piedmont Clinic, a 567-member physician network.