National Hospital Day

US #2210 was issued for the 250th anniversary of Bellevue Hospital.

On May 12, 1921, the US celebrated National Hospital Day for the first time.

Matthew O. Foley, the managing editor of Hospital Management, conceived National Hospital Day.  He saw it as a national healthcare event that could promote trust in America’s hospitals in the wake of the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918 that claimed more than 600,000 American lives.  Because many people had died in hospitals, people started to fear them, but Foley wanted to help regain their trust.

US #2210 – Fleetwood Plate Block First Day Cover

President Warren G. Harding approved the holiday and declared the first National Hospital Day to be May 12, 1921.  May 12 was selected because it was the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is considered the founder of modern nursing.  That first National Hospital Day, hospitals across the country invited people to come and see the modern advances they had made and help encourage people to trust them again. 

US #2210 – Colorano Silk Cachet First Day Cover

In the years to come National Hospital Day continued to encourage hospitals to open their doors to the public to show people how safe they were and what they could expect for treatment.  Some of these presentations included X-ray technology, occupational therapy, anesthetics, and more.  As modern medicine evolved and improved, National Hospital Day helped to show these new innovations to the public.  It also promoted the idea that the hospital was “the first place to go instead of the last.”

US #1190 was issued to honor the nursing profession.

National Hospital Day continued to grow over the years, so much so that in 1953, it was expanded to National Hospital Week.  This was meant to give hospitals more time to educate the public about medical care.  In the years since, the week has become a celebration of the men and women who work in hospitals around the country every day. 

Also celebrated during National Hospital Week is International Nurses Day.  This day is also held on May 12 in honor of Florence Nightingale.  A Nurses Day was first suggested in 1953.  The US first celebrated Nurses Week in October 1954 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea.  In 1974, the International Council of Nurses established May 12 as International Nurses Day, while the US also celebrates National Nurses Week from May 6 to May 12.

Click here to view a flyer for the 1921 National Hospital Day in New Orleans.

Click here for more stamps honoring the medical field.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. I was born in a public hospital. Not sure it’s around my old home town any more. Hospitals and hospital workers are so important in our lives. Thanks to all hospital workers, esepcially doctorsm nurses and aides.

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