From a humble beginning marked by a gathering of eight hospital superintendents in Cleveland, Ohio more than a century ago, the American Hospital Association and its members have persevered through decades of challenge and change. Throughout all these years, hospitals and health systems have stood strong as beacons of hope and healing for the patients, families and communities they serve. Our members’ collective voice and shared commitment to advancing health in America has led the field with dedication, innovation and collaboration.
The 125th Anniversary of the American Hospital Association is an opportunity to reflect, to celebrate and to honor this work.
MOMENTS THROUGHOUT AHA'S HISTORY
The Association of Hospital Superintendents is founded. Eight hospital superintendents met in Cleveland to discuss common concerns and interests. In 1906, the name was changed to the American Hospital Association, with the objective of “the promotion of economy and efficiency in hospital management.”
First state associations join. Ohio Hospital Association voted in as the first “geographic section” of the AHA. Today our allied associations represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
National Hospital Week initially began as a day, celebrated on May 12, to honor the birthday of nurse pioneer Florence Nightingale. Created by the AHA to promote trust in hospitals in the wake of the Spanish Flu outbreak, it was lengthened into a week in 1953.
Washington office opens, originally called the Wartime Services Bureau. The office’s original purpose was to ensure hospitals had adequate supplies during rationing and shortages during WWII.
AHA Commission on Hospital Care sparks Hill-Burton Hospital Survey and Construction Act two years later, which gave hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities grants and loans for construction and modernization. Truman signed the act in 1946.
Establishment of the Hospital Research & Educational Trust (HRET), AHA’s not-for-profit research and education affiliate. HRET’s mission is to transform health care through research and education using applied research. One of its early leaders was Gen. Joseph McNinch, a surgeon and retired Army major general who later went on to lead the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
AHA helps increase emphasis on quality as a founder of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. The first director was Edwin L. Crosby, M.D., who served in that role until becoming CEO of the AHA in 1954.
The first Personal Membership Department for Hospital Engineers was created, later becoming one of the first personal membership groups of the AHA. Today the AHA has five professional membership groups supporting operational excellence in environmental services, supply chain, facility management, risk management, strategic planning, business development, marketing and communications.
AHA contributes, via research and advocacy, to developing and enacting the landmark Medicare and Medicaid programs, providing essential protection to older Americans and those with special coverage needs.
The American Organization of Nurse Executives is created to provide leadership professional development, advocacy and research to advance nursing care. Renamed the American Organization for Nursing Leaders in 2019, the group is an AHA subsidiary.
The AHA approves a “Patient’s Bill of Rights.” The principles continue today as the "Patient Care Partnership: Understanding Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities” on www.aha.org.
Sister Irene Kraus elected first woman Chair of AHA Board of Trustees. Sister Irene, then president of Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., was followed by Carolyn Roberts, Carolyn Boone Lewis, Mary Roch Rocklage, Teri Fontenot, Nancy Howell Agee, Melinda Estes, M.D., as subsequent female board chairs.
AHA Board supports Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment to reduce rate of increase of health care expenditures. This marked a change in incentives for providers, who previously “had to spend a dollar to get a dollar” and did not benefit from cost effectiveness or savings.
The Institute for Diversity in Health Management is founded to support the expansion of health care leadership opportunities for ethnically, culturally, and racially diverse individuals, and to increase the number of these individuals entering the field. The Institute became a subsidiary of the AHA in 2003, and in 2017 changed its name to the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity.
Richard Davidson, who served as CEO from 1991 to 2007, paved the way for increasing AHA influence in national health care reform.
Carolyn Boone Lewis elected first African-American Chair of AHA Board of Trustees. Later African American Chairs have included Kevin Lofton, Eugene Woods and Wright Lassiter III.
The AHA establishes a Task Force on Behavioral Health to develop strategies to assist hospitals in the development of behavioral health care services for the general acute care hospital and to provide real-world examples of how hospitals have successfully addressed these issues.
Under the leadership of AHA CEO Rich Umbdenstock, the AHA supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and helped the nation address the Ebola scare.
The AHA continues its work on behalf of expanded access and coverage with its support of the Affordable Care Act, legislation that has extended coverage to millions of people.
In the face of dramatically rising health costs, the AHA launches The Value Initiative to help hospitals advance the issue of affordable health care and promote value in their communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic hits the U.S. As hospitals and health systems face unprecedented care delivery challenges, the AHA secures more than $200 billion in provider relief in the form of funds, accelerated and advance payments, and the delay of scheduled cuts, along with regulatory waivers to make it easier to deliver care.
The AHA continues its efforts as hospitals battle the COVID-19 pandemic, with the announcement at the White House of a national inventory of ventilators through which hospitals shared this valuable resource at a time of dire need.
AHA initiates national rollout of the 100 Million Mask Challenge, a program originally launched by Providence Health, to address the shortage of personal protective equipment.
President Joe Biden receives a vaccination for COVID-19 at AHA member hospital Christiana Care’s Christiana Hospital in Delaware.
The CDC launches a multimillion dollar program in partnership with the AHA to promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence.
AHA updated its vision and mission statements to underscore the association’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, the AHA launches a multichannel campaign to educate policymakers and the public about the serious challenges facing hospitals, and the value they continue to deliver patients, families and the communities they serve.
The AHA celebrates its 125 years of advancing health for all through service and advocacy on behalf of the nation's hospitals and health systmes.