Valley Forge General Hospital
Valley Forge General Hospital was a former military hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The hospital was near both Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Valley Forge. It was the only United States Army General Hospital named for a place.
The hospital was built in 1942, and opened on Washington's Birthday in 1943 to care for the wounded of World War II. It became the largest military hospital in the United States. Eventually, the hospital had well over 3,000 patients and over 100 separate buildings. One feature of the hospital was its design of primarily two story buildings, interconnected by corridors. There were very long ramps leading from one floor to the other, to facilitate movement of wheelchairs and gurneys. The architecture was designed by Matthew Bookler.
The exterior was all red brick. The interior was all wood. It was a maze of corridors, and newly assigned personnel regularly became lost.
The site is now occupied by the University of Valley Forge.
The hospital is the setting for the 1951 film Bright Victory.
Many of the techniques used in rehabilitating blinded persons were first developed and used at Valley Forge. It was one of the foremost medical units in rehabilitation of blinded personnel in the world. The Acrylic Eye (for people who had lost an eyeball) was invented by one of the doctors at Valley Forge; it is still in use today.
The Department of Psychiatry and Neurology was among the world leaders in Psychiatric treatments. Many new medications were first utilized there, and many treatment techniques were developed there. The physicians, nurses and the neuropsychiatric technicians sent tens of thousands of cured personnel back to duty. The return to duty rate following treatment was much higher than in the vast majority of civilian hospitals.
In the late 1960s, Valley Forge General Hospital, along with seven other major Army hospitals, became the home of a "Clinical Specialist" training program (military MOS 91C). At that time, a person had to have been a medic for at least two years, and have a minimum of two years remaining on their enlistment after completing the school, in order to be accepted. This was advanced training for ten months, on top of all previous training and experience. This program was considered equivalent to a civilian LPN or LVN course but also included many military medicine oriented training objectives.
The personnel stationed at Valley Forge General Hospital had no married housing available to them. As a result, they rented housing in Phoenixville, Norristown, Pottstown and virtually all of the other local communities. Many of the personnel joined local groups.
After the film Bright Victory was released, all personnel assigned to the hospital were required to view the film.
Valley Forge General Hospital was extensively upgraded in the late 1960s, at a cost of millions of dollars. Then, the new Surgeon General of the United States Army decided that it was no longer needed, and it was closed down.
- The above corrected history is based upon two booklets published by Valley Forge General Hospital. The first was published in 1944, and the second was published for the 25th anniversary of the hospital in 1968. That second booklet had an extensive history of the hospital, as well as many pictures of its construction.