The Village Improvement Association was the guiding force behind the founding of Doylestown Hospital in 1923, and still governs the operation of the hospital today. Founded in 1895 by a small, but inspired, group of women from Doylestown, the VIA is nationally recognized as the only Women's Club to own and operate a community hospital. The first meeting was held April 26, 1895 with 14 women present. Since that time the VIA has grown in size and scope to its present membership of 260 members.
Throughout its history, the VIA has continued to be a progressive organization, while maintaining the original goals of the Association which are to promote "every proper means of improving and beautifying Bucks County", "improving the health and welfare of the residents." Each year members rededicate themselves to these commitments made in 1895.
The VIA recognized the need for public health initiatives and community healthcare services, and began with the employment of a Visiting Nurse in 1916. The 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic galvanized the need for formalized community based health care. The VIA, together with local medical professionals and the Doylestown community, opened the Doylestown Emergency Hospital, an eight bed facility, at Pine and Oakland in 1923.
As demand for care increased, Doylestown Emergency Hospital moved to a new location at Belmont and Spruce, Doylestown, in 1939. Originally a 21 bed facility, this hospital expanded to accommodate 54 beds in 1951. As the community grew, a larger facility was needed. Doylestown Hospital was dedicated in 1975 as a 165-bed hospital on West State Street, Doylestown.
In 1992, the VIA acquired the Pine Run Community and Health Center and in 1998 added a separate Personal Care residence known as Pine Run Lakeview. A 37,000-square-foot, two-story community center was added to the Ferry Road campus in 2019 with a fitness and aquatics center, entertainment galleries, indoor and outdoor dining venues, a casual bar, as well as a 175-seat auditorium.
In 2001 the Village Improvement Association added the Health and Wellness Center in Warrington to its family. In 2015 the VIA Health System changed its name to Doylestown Health to represent a connected system of outpatient, inpatient, and community services.
The complete story of the first seventy-five years of the VIA and Doylestown Hospital has been beautifully detailed in the book by Anne Biggs entitled "Through Their Eyes". This Tower Hill Press book published in 1998 is available in the Doylestown Hospital Gift Shop.
Today, the center of VIA club activity is at the James Lorah Memorial Home, 132 N. Main Street, Doylestown. This treasured house-museum commemorates the families who have lived in the historic home and the ongoing life of the VIA.