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Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

SFGH Level 1 Trauma ProgramThe Level I Trauma Program: History

SFGH, 1940's SFGH, recent aerial viewSan Francisco has a long history of providing quality healthcare to all San Francisco residents.  The following chronicles the history of health services delivery in San Francisco and the importance of the Level I Trauma Center in that history.

Before 1970

1996 to the Present

Horse-drawn ambulance
Horse-drawn ambulance,
date unknown

1849 – The City established the role of City physician.

1872 – The City built a hospital which could accommodate 400 patients at Potrero Avenue. 

Mission Emergency with Ambulance

Ambulance at
Mission Emergency, c1915

1904 – The City operated four emergency hospitals (Central, Harbor, Park, and Potrero).

1906 –The Potrero hospital treated earthquake survivors for earthquake-related injuries and the resulting plague.

1909 – Mission Emergency Hospital built at 23rd Street and Potrero Avenue.  By the 1930's all serious injuries were sent to this facility.

Dedication of new hospital
Hospital dedication, May 1915

1915 – The City dedicated a new hospital on the Potrero site with four main ward buildings, an administration building, and a receiving building.

1950's – Two-way radios provided in ambulances.  In 1953, the City had 13 ambulances, with 5 in operation 24-hours/day.

1968 – San Francisco General Hospital was designated as a Trauma Center.   First complete trauma system in the United States.

1970s- Emergency Medicine, Nursing, and Paramedics recognized as new disciplines in healthcare.

Injury Logo1972 – Federal Trauma Center designation.  Senator Alan Cranston dedicated the Trauma Center.

1975 – Founding of the Trauma Foundation, a private not-for-profit dedicated to injury prevention.

1976 – The City dedicated a new acute care hospital on the Potrero campus. 

1989 – San Francisco Injury Center established as one of 15 CDC funded centers in the United States.

SFGH Injury Center, photo couresy The Chronicle, Liz Hafalia

1991 – San Francisco Emergency Medical Services Agency designated SFGH as a Level I Trauma Center and the American College of Surgeons verified SFGH as a Level I Trauma Center

2001 – SFGH launched a Traumatic Brain Injury Program under the direction of Dr. Martin Holland, Chief of Neruosurgery.

2002 – Trauma Fellowship established.

2003 – SFGH Trauma Recovery Center created.

2004 – Trauma Center designation and verification reviewed.


Historical information on this page is from the book "Catastrophes, Epidemics, and Neglected Diseases: San Francisco General Hospital and the Evolution of Public Care" written by F. William Blaisdell, MD and Moses Grossman, MD.  The book is available for sale from the The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation for a cost of $30.

Please call 9-1-1 if this is a medical emergency. Please call Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center at (628) 206-8000 for general information.

For issues or questions other than medically related, you may email the Department of Public Health.