Our History

Advancing Osteopathic Medicine and Community Health

The Foundations’ heritage is rooted in a commitment to and tradition of osteopathic medicine. The osteopathic philosophy includes disease prevention, health promotion, the interrelationship and interdependence of the body’s structure and function, and holistic medicine. Learn more about our history through the following video and timeline.
Doctors Hospital – 1940
Doctors Hospital

Doctors Hospital was founded at 1087 Dennison Avenue in Columbus, Ohio by James O. Watson, DO, Harold E. Clybourne, DO and Ralph S. Licklider, DO to serve the community by providing accessible, affordable, quality and holistic health care, as well as programs and facilities for the training of osteopathic physicians and other health professionals. The successes of Doctors Hospital were due in large part to the dedicated and skilled primary care osteopathic physicians who referred patients to the hospital, as well as the vision and leadership of the hospital’s Board of Directors and executives.

Founding Osteopathic Physicians
New Founders

James O. Watson, DO
James O. Watson, DO, a distinguished surgeon, medical educator, and advocate for osteopathic medicine and research, was central to the growth of osteopathic medicine in Ohio. A graduate of the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1926, Dr. Watson served as chair of the Department of General Surgery at Doctors Hospital until his retirement in 1964.


Harold E. Clybourne, DO
Harold E. Clybourne, DO was an orthopedic surgeon, an educator and a 1923 graduate of Des Moines College of Osteopathic Medicine. In the early 1940s, he established the Doctors Hospital orthopedic residency training program, one of only four in the nation at the time. Dr. Clybourne remained engaged with Doctors Hospital until his death in 1969.


Ralph S. Licklider, DO
Ralph S. Licklider, DO specialized in Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology and served as chair of the Department at Doctors Hospital from 1940 until 1973. A graduate of the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Licklider worked tirelessly to raise the status of osteopathic medicine, and to ensure equity and practice rights for osteopathic physicians.

Expanding Facilities & Training – 1958

With expanding facilities, a growing medical staff and post-graduate teaching program, a Medical Education Department was established. Dr. Robert Steen was appointed Doctors Hospital’s first Director of Medical Education and Dr. Ruth Steen was appointed Secretary to the medical staff. They served in these positions until their retirement in 1981. The medical education programs continued to grow and the quality of the education enhanced in the ensuing years.

Hospital Expansion – 1960’s
Hospital Expansion – 1960’s

The Hospital expanded a number of times and in the early 1960s, a vision developed for a satellite location on the west side of Columbus, where there was significant community growth and a need for health services. What became known as Doctors Hospital West opened in October 1963 at 5100 West Broad Street, offering a full complement of healthcare services and modern technology, while honoring the commitment of the founders of Doctors Hospital to train future osteopathic physicians.

Doctors Hospital Foundation – 1961
Doctors Hospital North

In 1961, the Board established the Doctors Hospital Foundation, which became the corporate holding company for all Doctors Hospital affiliate activities, medical practices and health service operations.

Doctors Hospital of Nelsonville – 1980
Doctors Hospital Nelsonville

Doctors Hospital Columbus acquired corporate control of Mount Saint Mary’s Hospital in Nelsonville, Ohio and changed its name to Doctors Hospital of Nelsonville. The Hospital had served the community since 1950 and was an important asset in southeast Ohio.

Osteopathic Education Enhanced in Ohio – 1970

The Hospital and osteopathic medicine continued to grow in size, service and reputation. In the early 1970s, supported by the teaching hospitals, Ohio Osteopathic Association and osteopathic physicians in the state, the Ohio State Legislature established a tax-supported college of osteopathic medicine at Ohio University. This transformed the education and training programs in Ohio and at Doctors Hospital, which became the largest and most respected training site for the new college.

A New Vision & Strategy – 1990s
A New Vision & Strategy – 1990s

The Doctors Hospital Foundation and Hospital boards of directors in Columbus and Nelsonville determined the communities-at-large and osteopathic medicine could be served through philanthropic organizations with the financial strength and commitment to improve health and quality of life locally, and to advance the principles and practices of osteopathic medicine locally, statewide and nationally. For this direction to be pursued, it was vital that the traditions and successful programs provided through the hospital system be retained.

Asset Sale Approved – 1998
Asset Sale Approved – 1998

The Boards of Directors approved the asset sale of the Hospitals to OhioHealth, a large, highly-respected, nonprofit healthcare system that committed to retain the community services and osteopathic traditions upon which the hospitals had been established.

First Funding Awards Approved – 1999
Mission Vision

The Osteopathic Heritage Foundations approved their first funding awards as private, independent foundations. These initial awards were designed to improve quality of life, including diabetes outreach and education, meals on wheels, elderly health access, vision care outreach and violence prevention.

Commemorating 10 Years of Grantmaking – 2009
10 Years

Ten years of philanthropic funding was commemorated. The Foundations, at this point, had approved over $111 million in support of 650 programs and services to improve health and quality of life and enhance osteopathic medical education and research.

Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine – 2011
Heritage College

The Osteopathic Heritage Foundation approved a transformative gift, impacting medical care delivery in Ohio for generations: a $105 million award was approved to support growth and enhancements to the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. In recognition of this gift, Ohio University changed the name of its medical school to the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. The gift spurred significant growth for the Heritage College in medical student matriculates at three campuses (Athens, Dublin, Cleveland) and today is Ohio’s largest public medical school graduating approximately 250 medical students annually.

Commemorating 20 Years as Private Foundations – 2018

By 2018, the Foundations had approved over $240 million in support of 381 organizations and 1,419 programs – impacting tens of thousands of lives. As the nation’s largest, private foundations committed to osteopathic principles and philosophy, and Ohio’s largest health-supportive private foundations, the Boards and staff recognize the exceptional opportunity to positively impact communities across central and southeastern Ohio.

Learn more about how the Foundations’ mission was advanced during the first 20 years in the video 20 Years of Sustaining Success.