In November 1945, just months after the end of World War II, President Harry Truman outlined a program for improving the health and health care of Americans.
The Hospital Survey and Construction Act — also known as the Hill-Burton Act for senators Harold Burton of Ohio and Lister Hill of Alabama who sponsored it — was passed the following year by Congress.
In a nutshell, it called for the construction of hospitals and related health care facilities.
“The Hill-Burton Act generated about 22,000 hospitals for returning World War II veterans … because you had eight or nine million people returning to the country,” said Steve Goldstein, president and CEO of UR Medicine/Strong Memorial Hospital. “Most of those people went to rural hospitals. Then jobs changed and locations changed. What you found is many of these institutions needed higher occupancy.”
As a result, many closed. Today, Goldstein said there are about 6,000 hospitals in the United States — a big reason is the shift from inpatient to outpatient treatment.