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Small hospital for poor made way for University

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What started as a 10-bed public hospital on Augusta's Greene Street has grown into one of the largest hospitals in Georgia.

University Hospital's beginnings date to 1818, when the Augusta City Council agreed that a hospital was needed to treat the poor. Those too destitute to pay a doctor at their home were treated free during a period when outbreaks of yellow fever and a variety of other ailments were common.

Then called City Hospital, the two-story framed building was erected at a cost of about $5,000 and had an average daily patient census of about five -- all cared for free of charge.

After many changes in name and location throughout the 1800s, things changed in 1911 when the Medical College of Georgia, which had often used the hospital as a teaching site, sought affiliation with the University System of Georgia. The college's teaching hospital, City Hospital, was renamed University Hospital.

In later years, MCG built its own hospital, and University came under local control.

In 1962, the Richmond County Hospital Authority began looking for money to build a new hospital to replace the outdated one. A $5 million county bond issue passed, and the hospital received matching government funds for being in compliance with civil rights desegregation statues.

Much of the modern hospital was dedicated in 1971, with Gov. Jimmy Carter delivering the keynote address.

Today as a community, nonprofit health care system, University offers a range of services to people in the Augusta region. Its cornerstone is the 581-bed University Hospital.

University also offers specialty centers, including the University Breast Health Center, Heart & Vascular Institute and the W.G. Watson M.D. Women's Center.

More than 21,000 patients are admitted to University Hospital each year, and 10,000 more are observed on a 23-hour outpatient basis.

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