Reinventing Care
A commitment to continually improving patient care has shaped Doylestown Hospital, now celebrating its 90th anniversary, into one of the country’s best hospitals
by Bill Donahue

In 1923, when the Village Improvement Association opened the doors to an eight-bed hospital in the heart of Bucks County, its goal was rather modest: to provide maternity care, emergency aid and treatment for serious injuries before patients could be transferred to another hospital.

The founding mothers of this women’s civic group, which owns the hospital to this day, could not possibly have imagined that their institution, then known as Doylestown Emergency Hospital, would one day be among the most advanced and best-equipped health care centers in the region and, in fact, the country: Doylestown Hospital, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. 

“The exciting thing about an organization like Doylestown Hospital is that it has deep, deep roots in community service,” says James Brexler, president and CEO. “It was founded by the Village Improvement Association, and its mission from 120 years ago was to ensure the health and beauty of the community, so they thought about things this community needed. They found ways to create services and programs that made sense. … This is a community that thinks about the whole in addition to its parts.”

As part of the VIA Health System, Doylestown Hospital has become a leader in regional health care, with 238 licensed beds, 420 physicians in more than 40 specialty areas, all supported by a group of long-tenured nurses and more than 1,000 volunteers. It now has the capacity to provide the full continuum of care—from maternity care for newborns to palliative care for patients nearing the end of their lives.

In addition to the hospital, the VIA Health System has grown to include The Doylestown Hospital Surgery Center and outpatient testing services at the Health & Wellness Center in Warrington; Pine Run Retirement Community and Health Center; Lakeview Assisted Living, and Doylestown Hospital Visiting Nurse/Home Care. Throughout the network, areas of clinical excellence include The Richard A. Reif Heart Institute, The Cancer Institute and the Orthopedic Institute, all situated on the hospital campus.

The VIA Maternity Center was renovated and redecorated this past fall and includes 22 beautifully refurnished and private postpartum rooms; an expansion of the well-baby nursery; a larger C-section suit, with two dedicated operating rooms; a comprehensive prenatal testing center; expansion of the Level II intensive care nursery to accommodate specialized equipment and room for family interaction.

In January, Doylestown Hospital will unveil a new 3T MRI scanner to provide the highest-quality imaging in an environment designed to lessen patient anxiety, the first one on the East Coast.

A completely new Emergency Department opened in 2010 with 39 private treatment rooms and an accredited chest pain center. The hospital has worked diligently to secure specialty affiliations with other leading regional health care centers such as the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Jefferson Hospital, the Penn Cancer Network and Temple University Hospital.

In addition to tremendous growth, the hospital has earned an astounding number of awards from respected publications and industry authorities, including a ranking by Thompson Reuters as one of the 100 Top Hospitals, and one of the 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals, in the United States in 2012. Becker’s Hospital Review named Doylestown as one of the “100 Hospitals with a Great Cardiac Program” in 2013. The hospital was also ranked No. 2 in the nation for 30-day survival rate after a heart attack. Hospitals & Health Networks magazine called Doylestown one of the nation’s “most wired” hospitals for the technology that supports clinical excellence. The hospital also has received numerous citations and awards for cancer, orthopedic, stroke and heart failure care.

“This place started not as a hospital but as an extension of a growing community, and it has grown tremendously,” Brexler says. “As we look into the future, it may be a little bit of ‘back to the future,’ because much of what we do today is about getting back to providing services in the community in less institutional environments and supporting folks as they find ways to take on more responsibility for their own health.”

In this era of health care reform, the hospital’s mission has evolved to extend beyond the walls of the Doylestown campus. One example is Health Connections, an in-store location at the Cowhey Family ShopRite supermarket in Warminster. Here, the hospital offers programming, health screenings and other information to help community members take a more active role in their health. This could include anything from educational programs about changes in health care law to free blood-pressure screenings.

Doylestown Hospital will unveil a Web-based patient portal in February, thereby enabling patients to access their medical history and information from the comfort of their own homes.

“The portal has been in development for some time, but this is not technology for technology’s sake,” says Eleanor Wilson, R.N., chief operating officer and vice president/patient services. “Patients should be looking at their information to verify that it is accurate, especially as they migrate from one physician practice to another. They will be able to view their complete medical records even when they are not on site. Our doctors can see that information, so why should the patient not have the same access?”

“I’ve been here since 1990, when this was a well-managed community hospital,” says Scott S. Levy, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president. “In the last 23 years, it has become a hospital that benchmarks itself against the best health care centers in the country. … Economics are never the primary driver. Instead, the VIA looks at its mission as a nonprofit and asks, what does the community need?”

With 90 years of reinventing health care for the communities it serves, Doylestown Hospital is well poised to actively shape the future of health care.

“We’re always looking for new ways to provide or improve service,” says Brexler. “Technology is one thing, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you also have the best clinicians. This place is about people caring for people, and we are blessed to have the best people, the best minds and the most caring folks right here.

“We have an advertising program that touts the message ‘Care. Reinvented.’ and we’re really trying to live that,” he continues. “We’re excited and ready for change, as opposed to some who are nervous about the future. This is a place that is comfortable taking things in a new direction, and it has over its 90 years of existence.”

Doylestown Hospital
595 W. State Road
Doylestown, PA  18901
215-345-2200 |