MedStar Union Memorial has been a leader in the field of orthopedics since the 1940s. While the specialty of orthopedics was still being developed in Maryland and across the country, we established an Orthopedic department to perform procedures that were previously completed by general surgeons and general practitioners, enabling us to provide higher quality care.

Our dedication to providing the best specialty services to our patients continued through the 1970s, as we opened the first hand center in Maryland, as well as one of the first hospital-based sports medicine programs in the nation. Since the 1970s, we have continued to expand our services, completing research and developing new procedures in order to provide the best possible care to our patients.

vintage ortho image 1000x600

Photo caption: Dr. Donald Morrison, orthopedic surgeon, checks medical records at the nurse’s station


MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is founded as The Union Protestant Infirmary, with accommodations for 20 patients. The daily average for the first year is 10 patients.



X-rays are first used in surgery in the United States.



Orthopedic surgery emerges as a recognized subspecialty around this time.*



The Union Protestant Infirmary changes its name to The Union Memorial Hospital.



Physical therapy opens at The Union Memorial Hospital. Volunteers are used at first.



The Union Memorial Hospital was already considered a leader in the orthopedic field by the end of World War II.*



Dr. Raymond Curtis is discharged from the Army and returns to The Union Memorial Hospital.


Early 1950s

Dr. J.T.H. “Jerry” Johnson joins The Union Memorial Hospital and later becomes its first chief of orthopedics, at a time when there were only 30-40 certified orthopedists in the whole state of Maryland.*



Dr. Curtis is named Consultant in Hand Surgery to the Surgeon General of the Army. At a time when many hand surgeons are frowning upon post-operative physical therapy, Dr. Curtis is a strong advocate for hand therapy as an integral part of patient care.



The Hand Center acquires its first microscopes and becomes a pioneer in applying vascular surgery and nerve regeneration to surgical procedures involving arms, hands and fingers.



Total knee and hip replacement is introduced to the United States from Europe. The FDA approves the use of methyl methacrylate bone cement to secure these implants.


Early 1970s

The medical board and trustees of The Union Memorial Hospital decide that they would like to establish an orthopedic residency and become a center for that rising specialty.


The Austin-Moore hip prosthesis, which was partly developed by Dr. Harold Bohlman Sr. of The Union Memorial Hospital staff, is increasingly used to treat displaced sub-capital hip fractures. This replaces the former treatment: nailing.*



The Union Memorial Hospital’s main hospital building, the North Building, is dedicated.


The Raymond M. Curtis Hand Center opens on the third floor of the Professional Building. It is the first hand center in Maryland.



The Sports Medicine Center opens–the first hospital-based program in Maryland and one of the first in the nation.



Dr. Les Matthews joins The Union Memorial Hospital and is later named chief of orthopedics. He had previously trained in the evolving specialty of arthroscopic surgery and will go on to become a U.S. leader in performing arthroscopic surgery. **



Sports Medicine Fellowship is founded.



The Union Memorial Hospital becomes the first hospital in Baltimore to acquire a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine.



The Union Memorial Hospital joins Franklin Square Hospital Center to form the Helix Health System.



The William H. M. Finney Spine Center opens.


Foot and Ankle Surgery Fellowship is founded.



The Morton K. Blaustein Foot & Ankle Center opens.


Early 1990s

Sports medicine expands to Harford County in space beneath the Bel Air Athletic Club. This quickly becomes an even busier location than the hospital. Injured athletes travel to The Union Memorial Hospital for surgery and then return to the Bel Air facility for their therapy and follow-up visits.**


The Good Samaritan Hospital and Harbor Hospital join Helix Health System.



The Johnston Professional Building, home of the current orthopedic office at MedStar Union Memorial, and its connected parking garage open.
Over 7,000 square feet of the new building was dedicated to sports medicine alone, including space for exam rooms, high-speed video analysis, a human performance lab, locker rooms for patients, and a therapy area.


Sports Medicine Fellowship earns accreditation.



The 103rd Congress designates funds for the treatment of the hand and upper extremity at the Curtis Hand Center at The Union Memorial Hospital. The name becomes The Curtis National Hand Center.


The Orthopaedic Biomechanics Research Laboratory opens at The Union Memorial Hospital.



MedStar Health is formed when the Helix Health System merges with Medlantic Health System of Washington.



The Union Memorial Hospital is named one of the top 20 orthopedic teaching hospitals in the country.



The Union Memorial Hospital is named one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals for orthopedics.



For the first time, U.S. News and World Report names The Union Memorial Hospital’s orthopedic program as one of the top 50 programs in the country.



Foot and Ankle Surgery Fellowship earns accreditation.



The STAT (Surgical Techniques And Technologies) Lab opens on August 1. The STAT Lab is an advanced teaching facility for training in contemporary surgical techniques.



Sports medicine physician Dr. Andrew Tucker becomes president of the National Football League’s Physician’s Society.



Along with all of the hospitals that make up the MedStar Health system, the hospital changes its name to MedStar Union Memorial Hospital.



Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Fellowship is founded and accredited.



The orthopedic program at MedStar Union Memorial begins working more collaboratively as a service line with the other three MedStar hospitals in Baltimore. Together, they are known as MedStar Orthopaedic Institute.



MedStar Union Memorial Hospital celebrates its 160th anniversary.



Spine Surgery Fellowship is founded and accredited.




Timeline was taken from the following book:


Smithwick, Patrick. (2004). The art of healing: Union Memorial Hospital, 150 years of caring for patients. Baltimore, Maryland: Union Memorial Hospital.


Specific chapters cited:

*Johnson, J.T.H. (2004). Early orthopaedics at Union Memorial Hospital. In Patrick Smithwick, The art of healing: Union Memorial Hospital, 150 years of caring for patients. (117-122). Baltimore, Maryland: Union Memorial Hospital.

**MacDonald, N.A. (2004). Have doctor, will travel: The early years of the sports medicine program. In Patrick Smithwick, The art of healing: Union Memorial Hospital, 150 years of caring for patients. (266-269). Baltimore, Maryland: Union Memorial Hospital.