Georgetown University Hospital, set atop a row of hills along Reservoir Road, promotes good health through patient care, research and education. Founded in 1898 and shaped by Georgetown's Catholic Jesuit heritage, the hospital consistently has ranked among the nation's best. In 2004, the hospital earned Magnet status, the international award for best nursing practices,Shortly after its founding, Georgetown University Hospital served as a major treatment center for wounded troops returning from the Spanish American War. Before the hospital was founded, Civil War soldiers were cared for on the hilltop at Georgetown University. Following the Second Manassas and Antietam battles, the U.S. Government requisitioned Georgetown University and nearby Holy Trinity Church for military hospitals. Only a few buildings remained open for education. Other Georgetown churches voluntarily opened their doors for the increasing war casualties. Boards laid on top of pews provided space for the wounded and sick.The U.S. Government went beyond the hilltop and turned several Georgetown homes and businesses into hospitals as well. One was the Union Hotel and Tavern, a once grand hotel turned boarding house. All residents were ordered to leave in May, 1861 to permit use as a hospital. The following spring, Louisa May Alcott (author of Little
Women) arrived as an Army nurse. She contracted typhoid fever shortly thereafter, abruptly ending her nursing career, but providing insight for a book (Hospital Sketches) about the deplorable conditions in the ward set up in the hotel ballroom.After the Civil War, Georgetown University adopted blue and gray as official colors - a tribute to its wartime role and the reunification of the North and South as a single and peaceful nation.