Erie's Local Health System

Our History

The History of the LECOM Academic Health Center

The beginning of all promising enterprises, undertakings, or accomplishments begins with an idea. With that idea usually follows a set of circumstances, which, in retrospect, appear to have forecast a prophetic outcome.

Throughout history, legacy creating, innovative decisions have distinguished between leader and follower; between insight and apathy; and ultimately, between success and failure. Such is the case with the history that has come to form the heritage of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and the LECOM Health system.

1950: The Teaching Hospital of the LECOM Academic Health Center Opens

Osteopathic medicine’s roots center on the belief that the body is able to heal itself. This holistic approach to medicine was brought to Erie in the form of a community hospital over 50 years ago through the vision and efforts of six osteopathic providers. These founding providers believed it was not up to the public to give them a place to work. They wanted to supply the community with a place. Their dream was to provide an alternative medicine to all who wanted or needed its benefits. Their dream was realized on January 15, 1950, as the Erie Osteopathic Hospital was opened. The hospital was founded by Amedeo A. Agresti, D.O., Ben L. Agresti, D.O., Lloyd R. Bashaw, D.O., Richard W. Cooney, D.O., Otto A. Meyn, D.O., and H. Dale Pearson, D.O.

Our Founders and First Facility

The six founding providers purchased a stone building on West Sixth street for the site of the Erie Osteopathic Hospital. The hospital’s services included a complete clinical laboratory, major and minor operating rooms, emergency room, outpatient service, a delivery and labor suite, an eight-bassinet nursery, full X-ray Department, private and semi-private rooms, and two five-bed wards.

Between 1950 and 1958, many patients were served by the growing hospital. The cases recorded include 9200 patient admissions, 5849 operations, 1558 births, and over 16,000 x-ray cases. The growing hospital was in need of additional beds and parking spaces.

We Moved to Peach Street in 1958

So in 1958, a tract of six and one half acres in Millcreek Township was chosen to build a larger, more modern facility. This site proved feasible, being accessible from town and the surrounding area. The modern, one story hospital at 5515 Peach Street, could accommodate twice as many patients and would continue to include departments in medicine, surgery and obstetrics. It also established a department of general practice, reinforcing its commitment to a holistic approach to patient care, which is the cornerstone of the osteopathic philosophy.

After only five years at its new Millcreek site, the public’s demand for the hospital’s services had overburdened the facility. The Board of Trustee’s agreed that another fifty beds, plus larger labs and x-ray facilities must be added. As the facility expanded its support services, sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment and diagnostic equipment were purchased to maintain modern medical standards.

1981: Millcreek Community Hospital Emerges

Millcreek Community Hospital became a reality on May 6, 1981 after 31 years of community service as Erie Osteopathic Hospital. Because the hospital wanted to forge a stronger geographic identity with Millcreek Township, it changed its name. The hospital leadership saw the growing need for new providers and in 1992 founded the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Millcreek Community Hospital prides itself in its commitment to provide the best personal care possible for patients. Expansion continued with the addition of a fifth floor, three story addition, senior living skilled nursing expansions and the LECOM Health and Wellness Center.

1992: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine is Established

As the 20th Century drew to a close, those in governance of Millcreek Community Hospital (MCH) in Erie, PA, were faced with a problematic decision. In an era during which it was becoming increasingly difficult to attract new physicians to the calling, this small community hospital sought to maintain its position of leadership within the field of health care. The dilemma was dissected by the group of visionaries at MCH who, through their astute prescience and vigilant observations, made a decision to open a new school of medicine.

At a time during which much of the medical community did not see a need for additional medical colleges, much less the need for further physicians, the MCH Board saw it differently. The hospital existed in an area within close proximity to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo; an area underserved by physicians. The establishment of a medical college in Erie had the intended effect of allowing the hospital to train needed new doctors and to accommodate the open positions at MCH and at other hospitals throughout the region.

The journey began in September of 1988, when the Board of Trustees of Millcreek Community Hospital conducted a major strategic planning retreat. Attendees at the planning session established a new hospital mission that emphasized the need for educating osteopathic physicians to provide medical services to the medically underserved areas across Northwestern Pennsylvania.

In March 1989, the Board of Trustees assembled an Osteopathic Medical School Task Force that began to explore the feasibility of founding a new osteopathic medical school. The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) was established as the 16th college of osteopathic medicine in the nation with its receipt of a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Charter in December 1992.

1993: Charter Class of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Begins

The Charter Class began on Aug. 9, 1993, at a new campus on West Grandview Blvd. in Erie, PA With the graduation of the LECOM inaugural class on May 24, 1997, the college received full accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association. Since that time, LECOM has granted the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree to almost 4,900 graduates as of 2015.

The founding president, Joseph J. Namey, D.O., was an acclaimed general practitioner and a tireless advocate of osteopathic medicine. A longtime resident of Erie, Dr. Namey has been credited with enhancing the image of osteopathic medicine across the country. John M. Ferretti, D.O., succeeded Dr. Namey, becoming the second president of LECOM. Dr. Ferretti is a board-certified internist who was among the college founders and who is a nationally recognized leader in osteopathic medicine. Under Dr. Ferretti’s guidance, the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine has gained national prominence, and it has realized unprecedented growth.

2002: LECOM Triples Size and LECOM School of Pharmacy Classes Begin

By 2002, college growth and enrollment required LECOM to triple the size of the original medical school building, adding another 100,000 square feet of modern teaching, learning, and research facilities. With the acquisition of the neighboring LORD Corporation property in 2011, the college is expansively situated along West Grandview Boulevard where a park-like, 53-acre campus boasts an excellent view of Lake Erie.

A continually growing medical and wellness campus also stretches along Peach Street in Erie as the college and community engage in the whole-body wellness paradigm that has become LECOM Health, the only health system with an Osteopathic Academic Health Center in the United States. The college, Millcreek Community Hospital, and Medical Associates of Erie, the clinical practice network of physician offices located in Erie County, form the core of this highly innovative medical education and patient care system.

True to the college mission, to provide primary health care to Northwestern Pennsylvania, LECOM achieved another milestone with the addition of its School of Pharmacy. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved the LECOM School of Pharmacy in May 2001. Classes began in September 2002, and LECOM held its first pharmacy school graduation in June 2005. Following that commencement, the LECOM School of Pharmacy received full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Since that time, LECOM has granted the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree to almost 1,900 graduates.

2004: LECOM Bradenton Welcomes First Class and Becomes Largest Medical College in the Nation

In addition to the original campus in Erie, PA, LECOM has continued its role in the vanguard of national leadership in osteopathic medicine by developing a branch campus in Bradenton, FL Located in the lush, palm-embowered setting of Lakewood Ranch, a master-planned community in Manatee County, FL, LECOM Bradenton welcomed its first class of medical students on Sept. 13, 2004. With the enrollment of the Bradenton Class of 2011, LECOM became the largest medical college in the nation. In 2007, the School of Pharmacy also expanded to Florida, offering a traditional four-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree curriculum and graduating the first class from LECOM Bradenton in 2011.

2005: LECOM Initiates Master of Science in Medical Education Degree Program

In keeping with its proven tradition of leading the field in medical education, LECOM initiated the Master of Science in Medical Education Degree Program at the Erie campus in 2005. This postgraduate course became the first distance education program at LECOM and it trains physicians to become teachers and leaders in the clinical education of future physicians. The college also offers the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences Degree and the Health Sciences Post Baccalaureate Certificate.

2009: LECOM at Seton Hill Opens and LECOM Medical Fitness and Wellness Center Opens

The vision of LECOM continued in 2009, with the extension of LECOM Erie to the campus of the private liberal arts institution of Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA LECOM at Seton Hill added an additional 104 medical students to the first-year class, and now, it has more than 400 students in total enrollment.

Augmenting the noteworthy educational advancements, LECOM has been ever cognizant of its role in community enrichment, service, and the promulgation of health for all. With the 2009 opening of the John M. and Silvia Ferretti Medical Fitness and Wellness Center, the college founded a medically integrated wellness center that not only serves the fitness and medical education needs of LECOM students and employees of LECOM Health, but also provides a facility that offers to the populace of Erie County an opportunity to pursue a better quality of life through prevention and wellness.

2012: LECOM School of Dental Medicine Welcomes Students in Bradenton

In July 2012, the LECOM School of Dental Medicine welcomed students in Bradenton, establishing yet a new era in the betterment of healthcare education. The first class of dental students, completed their fourth year of study at community-based dental outreach offices in DeFuniak Springs, FL, and in Erie, PA These sites were chosen, in part, because of the enduring LECOM commitment to provide care where it is most needed.

2014: LECOM Adds Two Distance Education Pathways, Becomes Lead Agency for Safe Kids Erie, and Incorporates LifeWorks Erie

Ever vigilant to marking innovative trends in education, LECOM added two Distance Education Pathways in 2014. The School of Pharmacy Four-Year Pathway has grown to allow students to take courses online. The Pathway offers one of only two online-distance education programs in the nation for pursuing the Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

The first class of the Masters in Health Services Administration (MHSA) program graduated in 2015 and are sought after to fill key leadership roles in the administration of hospitals, clinical practices, and in other healthcare facilities. The MHSA program was ranked #6 in the nation by in 2018. The Masters of Science in Biomedical Ethics (MSBE) degree was launched in 2018 to meet an unmet need for formally trained Ethicists ready to address the most complex moral and ethical healthcare issues of our time. The LECOM School of Health Services Administration was also created in 2018 to provide a center of excellence from which current and future LECOM healthcare business and compliance programs can be developed.

In keeping with its unremitting mission of service and its unflagging goal to promote improved health for all, LECOM – in 2014 – became the lead agency for the Safe Kids Erie Program, which previously had been administered by the Erie County Department of Health. Safe Kids Erie strives to educate families and to raise awareness of the fact that the vast majority of injuries to children can and should be prevented. LECOM leadership of the Program also has created additional opportunities for students at the college to serve the community.

Also in 2014, LECOM incorporated LifeWorks Erie into its family of health and educational services. The affiliation with LifeWorks Erie, which offers programs, services, and lifelong learning opportunities for individuals age 50 and older, has complemented and enhanced the ability of the LECOM Institute for Successful Living to serve the growing elderly population throughout the region.

2015: LECOM Institute for Successful Living Opens Senior Living Center and Three Parkside Senior Living Communities

In 2015, as LECOM wholly recast the very paradigm in comprehensive patient-centered health care, the LECOM Institute for Successful Living opened the 138-bed LECOM Senior Living Center adjacent to Millcreek Community Hospital. The welcoming and homelike environment, coupled with a skilled nursing facility, is the next generation of innovative, compassionate, and comprehensive health care designed specifically for older adults.

Ever aware of changing community needs, LECOM recognized the disproportionately growing senior population in Erie County by adding a multifaceted component to its health care programs for older adults. As part of the LECOM commitment to wellness for this growing age group, LECOM purchased Parkside Senior Living Communities comprised of three independent living and personal care apartment complexes, located in Erie, North East and Millcreek.

2016: LECOM Acquires Corry Memorial Hospital, LECOM at Presque Isle Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and the Visiting Nurses Association of Erie County, LECOM Introduces Master of Medical Science Program

Life is change; growth is optional. In this area, LECOM always has chosen wisely. Knowing the way in which to grow is just as important as knowing when to do so.

Thus, as the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine met the new year, 2016 began with multiple LECOM acquisitions, including Corry Memorial Hospital, LECOM at Presque Isle Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, and the Visiting Nurses Association of Erie County. The prodigious undertaking further solidifies LECOM as the seminal provider of a healthful and proactive amalgam of comprehensive services that afford older adults independent decision-making options throughout each part of the continuum of care.

In addition, the Master of Medical Science (MMS) Program is a one-year, non-thesis program introduced in 2016 that is designed to academically, scientifically, and professionally prepare students who are interested in careers in medicine, dentistry, or pharmacy.

2017: LECOM Health Partners with Warren General Hospital

Growth continued in 2017, as LECOM Health (joined by Allegheny Health Network) became a partner with Warren General Hospital in Warren, Pennsylvania.

2018: LECOM Purchases LECOM Radio 88.5 FM, Announces Formation of LECOM School of Health Services Administration

LECOM completed its acquisition of WMCE 88.5 FM, the former Mercyhurst University radio station, on July 9, 2018. With the Federal Communications Commission’s final order approved, LECOM takes ownership of the broadcast station. LECOM had been operating the station as LECOM Radio since March 1, 2018, under a Public Service Operating Agreement. With the non-commercial station, LECOM is able to promote the college and all of the LECOM Health affiliates.

In September of 2018, LECOM announced the formation of the LECOM School of Health Services Administration (SHSA).

2019: LECOM Health Expands Rural Health Care, LECOM Launches Master's in Public Health Program

On Aug. 29, 2019, Corry Memorial Hospital (CMH), an affiliate of LECOM Health, celebrated the grand opening of the Corry Rural Health Clinic. The clinic, directly attached to CMH, allowing patients to conveniently transition between the two facilities without the need to leave the CMH campus for services or be exposed to the elements, houses both primary care and specialty physician offices.

Also in 2019, LECOM launched its Master’s in Public Health (M.P.H.) Program with an American focus.

2020: LECOM at Elmira Welcomes First Class

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) welcomed the Class of 2024 to its Elmira campus July 24, marking the culmination of a years-long effort to establish a medical school in New York’s Southern Tier.

2021: LECOM Purchases Former Porreco Campus Property in Erie

Edinboro University sold its former Porreco College property to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) on July 30, 2021. LECOM uses the classrooms for small group study for medical schools Problem Based Learning and Directed Study programs. The outdoor spaces are used for wellness and recreational programs by the students.

2022: LECOM Breaks Ground on New Ambulatory Surgery Center, LECOM Health Acquires Two More Parkside Properties, LECOM Announces Plans to Open a New Campus at Jacksonville University, LECOM Begins Master of Science in Medical Cannabinoid Therapeutics Degree Program

LECOM officially broke ground at the site of the future Ambulatory Surgery Center located at the corner of Bryant St. and Peach St. during a ceremony May 20, 2022. The 23,000-square-foot Ambulatory Surgery Center is forecasted to be complete in 15 months and will allow for same-day surgery procedures that are generally too complicated to take place inside doctors’ offices but not complex enough to require a lengthy hospital stay.

The Master of Science in Medical Cannabinoid Therapeutics (MS MCT) Degree Program began in June 2022 to address potential medical therapeutic applications of cannabis derivatives.

On Oct. 4, 2022, LECOM Health announced the purchase of Independence Court of Erie and has renamed the location “Parkside at Glenwood.” The facility, located at 41 West Gore Road in Erie, offers enhanced personal care and a memory care unit.

On Nov. 30, 2022, LECOM announced a new partnership with Jacksonville University to establish a four-year medical school in northeast Florida that will become LECOM at Jacksonville University. The inaugural class of medical students will begin coursework in 2026.

2023: LECOM Breaks Ground on New Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit, Opens New School of Podiatric Medicine, and LECOM Health Acquires Elmwood Gardens

On March 23, 2023, LECOM Health officials announced the groundbreaking of a 34,000 square-foot addition to the Millcreek Community Hospital that will create a new emergency department and intensive care unit. The new emergency department will be located on the first floor and include eight treatment rooms, two trauma rooms, and six patient rooms dedicated to behavioral health. The second-floor intensive care unit (ICU) will consist of six new critical care patient beds, and 14 private medical/surgical patient rooms. The expansion is slated to be completed in late 2024.

On Oct. 4, 2023, LECOM Health announced the purchase of Elmwood Gardens, located at 2628 Elmwood Ave. in Erie, and is renaming the independent living and personal care communities “Parkside at Elmwood,” and the skilled nursing facility will be “LECOM at Elmwood Gardens.”

The visionary leaders of medicine who founded LECOM sought to develop the core attributes of that which defines a health care professional: the credo of the calling; the intrinsic purpose of the healer; and the foundation of that which carries a physician to seek the best version of himself or herself – for each defines the future of medicine.

Much has transpired in two decades – education, enrichment, character and community – all within the prophecy of a prescient body of educators and physicians whose idea of the possible triumphed over doubt.

The founders of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine knew that their actions would inspire, their mission would bring purpose, and their commitment to a vision would result in a better tomorrow, not only for the generations of scholars who have crossed the threshold of a great institution, but also to the communities and to the larger world that they will serve in the calling of a lifetime.

Looking for more information?

This is default text for notification bar