Our History

Somerset Medical Center – Celebrating More Than 100 Years of Service

In 1899, a group of citizens and physicians who wanted better medical care for the residents of Somerset County purchased a house in Somerville and converted it into a 12-bed hospital. Today, Somerset Medical Center is a nationally accredited 355-bed regional medical center, providing high quality care to people throughout Central New Jersey.

In the Beginning…
The story began in 1898, when a 16-year-old boy from Somerville died after a serious head injury because he was unable to receive timely emergency treatment. His death saddened the community and triggered a fund-raising drive for a hospital. A board of trustees was formed and Somerset Hospital was officially incorporated on December 6, 1899.


With $5,500 raised through community donations, the trustees purchased a home on East Main Street in 1900. After considerable refurbishing, including the addition of running water and electricity, it opened its doors as Somerset Hospital in 1901 with a staff of 10 doctors and 12 beds.

The hospital was a focal point of community pride and medical service. It acquired an X-ray machine and lab equipment, and established a first-rate operating room that was lauded as the finest outside of New York City, with lights that could make it as bright as day inside.

A nursing school was started in 1911, with the head nurse also serving as superintendent of the hospital. During her tenure, because of the great demand for hospital services, many additions were made to the little house between 1911 and 1925. Still, it eventually reached its capacity of 24 beds.

A New Site…
Once again the community supported a fund-raising campaign, and in August 1925 a “new” Somerset Hospital was opened. Accommodating 100 patients, it was built on Rehill Avenue, where today’s medical center campus is located. It boasted a modern lab, delivery room and nursery, men’s and women’s wards, a well-equipped kitchen and state-of-the-art operating rooms. This facility cost almost $500,000 to build, about 100 times the cost of the first little house.


The demand for hospital services kept growing, and in 1946 it expanded to 190 beds with the new South Wing. In 1953, Nelson O. Lindley arrived from Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital to become Somerset’s first professional administrator. Under his guidance, the North Wing was opened in 1956.

In 1961, Fuld Auditorium was added. Aside from hospital functions, Fuld was and remains a community venue for meetings and other events. In 1963, the East Wing opened, bringing the total number of beds to 300. In 1972, the West Wing was completed, bringing bed capacity to 350 while providing space for future expansion.

Important changes continued. In 1975, the American Medical Association approved the establishment of the hospital’s three-year Family Practice Residency Program. The Medical Education building was built in 1977 for use by the public and hospital staff. In 1978, a short-term psychiatric care program, which later became Behavioral Health Services, was developed. That year, Somerset Hospital became Somerset Medical Center.

Continued Modernization…
In January 1985, the Same Day Center opened, anticipating the growing trend toward same-day procedures and surgeries. The Same Day Center was the first phase of a $15 million expansion and modernization project which also included the Clinical Laboratory, one of the largest and best-equipped hospital-based clinical laboratories in the state, and the $7.5 million Center for Diagnostic Imaging. In June 1990, the project’s final phase was completed: a 3,000-square-foot-addition to the Emergency Department.


Next came a three-year $46 million project with 58,000 square feet of new construction, 100,000 square feet of renovations and $10 million in new equipment. Completed in 1997, the project’s areas of expansion, new construction and renovation included the Same Day Center, G.I. Center, Cancer Services, Baby Suites, Breast Care Program, Critical Care Pavilion, major surgery suite and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) service; Pediatric, Orthopedic, Post-Anesthesia and Medical/Surgical patient care units; Rehabilitation Services, including Physical and Occupational Therapy; and the Eating Disorders Program.

Modernization continued in the 1990s with another expansion of the Emergency Department, and completion of a $6.5 million parking deck that provides parking for the convenience of patients, their families and visitors. The medical center also introduced new technologies, programs and services, such as a low-risk adult Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, DEXA scan technology and a comprehensive Osteoporosis Program, radioactive prostate seed implantation and a Sleep Disorders Center.

In 1999, a spacious new main entrance and main lobby addition was completed, providing a beautiful, modern and comfortable lobby that is a central location for outpatients and inpatients to conveniently access admitting and testing services. Through a generous corporate contribution, the lobby is now complemented by a lovely player piano.

New Technology


Since 2004, the medical center has invested more than $10 million in upgrading its information technology system to make care more efficient and improve patient safety. This initiative, which includes a computerized physician order entry system, electronic medical records and a picture archiving and communications system, earned the medical center national recognition in 2005 as one of Hospitals & Health Networks’ “Most Wired” hospitals. Somerset Medical Center was named one of the five finalists in the 2006 “IT Transformational Leadership Award” from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and Center for Healthcare Transformation for its successful implementation of an integrated medical record system and computerized physician order entry system. In 2008, 63% of the medical center’s physicians entered their orders via computer – an achievement attained by only 6% of hospitals nationwide.


Committed to providing the highest quality care to the Somerset County community, the medical center has made significant investments in new technologies and new facilities. The medical center recently completed a four-year $100 million expansion and renovation project – the largest in its history. The centerpiece of this expansion is the medical center’s new 40,000-square-foot Emergency Department, which opened in 2005. The facility is one of the largest, best-equipped emergency departments in New Jersey, featuring a 14-bed Express Care area for patients with minor ailments; onsite radiology and laboratory services; specialized treatment areas for children and patients with cardiac, gynecologic, psychiatric and orthopedic emergencies; and a spacious waiting area. A new 70-bed inpatient pavilion also opened in 2005, offering hotel-caliber amenities for oncology and medical/surgical patients, including full bathrooms, flat-screen televisions, DVD players and sleeper sofas allowing family members to stay overnight. Seven new operating suites were added, expanding the medical center’s capabilities to perform the latest minimally invasive surgical procedures.

The Sports Performance & Rehabilitation Center located at TD Bank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots baseball team, offers the latest sports medicine and outpatient rehabilitative services to help athletes of all ages and abilities enhance their skills and maintain a competitive edge. Focusing on injury prevention, the center brings the Medical Center’s health care expertise to the community and provides a comprehensive approach to wellness.

In 2006, the medical center became one of nine New Jersey hospitals without onsite cardiac surgery to begin performing elective coronary angioplasties as part of a three-year, multi-state clinical trial.

In 2007, the medical center opened The Steeplechase Cancer Center, a $28 million facility that centralized all outpatient cancer care services in one location for the first time, including radiation therapy, the Sanofi US Breast Care Program, infusion therapy, the medical center’s oncology research team, oncologists’ offices, the Sanofi US Wellness Boutique, complementary medicine services, and nutritional counseling. The Steeplechase Cancer Center is designated as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer and is a clinical research affiliate of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The Sanofi US Breast Care Program has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology – one of only 12 centers in New Jersey to earn this distinction.

The medical center also expanded its Sleep for Life Center in 2007, opening a new 20-bed, 14,000-square-foot facility in Hillsborough that is one of the largest, most high-tech and best-equipped sleep disorders centers in the nation. Sleep for Life is unique in its holistic approach to the treatment of sleep disorders. While most other sleep disorders facilities simply offer testing services, Sleep for Life also has dedicated sleep medicine physicians to provide complete health assessments, testing and follow-up care – all under one roof. The center recently received Accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

In 2008, the medical center opened its new Medical Coordination Center, one of nine designated by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to coordinate health care resources in the event of a disaster situation in the Somerset-Hunterdon-Mercer county region.

In addition, the medical center was recently designated as a primary stroke center by The Joint Commission, the nation’s predominant accrediting health care organization, and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. These certifications are testament to the medical center’s high level of care and assure our community that they will have timely access to expert stroke care close to home, giving them the best chance for a full recovery.

The medical center is the recipient of the 2011 HealthGrades Orthopedic Surgery Excellence AwardTM and is ranked among the top 5 percent of hospitals nationally for overall orthopedic surgery.

Also in 2011, Somerset Medical Center nurses received nursing’s most prestigious honor – Magnet® recognition by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Only six percent of hospitals nationwide have achieved this distinction.


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