The 168-acre Highland Drive campus of VA Pittsburgh is located off of Washington Boulevard near the Highland Park Bridge.
The Highland Drive campus of VA Pittsburgh has been identified for closure, and clinical patient care services are no longer provided here. The campus will be closed in several phases as new construction is completed at the University Drive and H.J. Heinz campuses.
Specialized research programs still located at Highland Drive include the following three National Research Centers of Excellence:
The Human Engineering Research Laboratories, also a National Research Center of Excellence, recently relocated to Bakery Square in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh.
Construction of a neuropsychiatric hospital authorized by President Harry S. Truman on March 22, 1947, began in the spring of 1950. Much cutting and filling of earth was required to suit the layout of the hospital buildings, and over 650,000 cubic yards of overburden and 6,000 tons of coal were removed from the site. The total cost of construction for this hospital was $19,447,176, part of which was raised with Series E War Bonds sold by Mrs. F.P. Tarnapowicz ("Tarney"). The original campus included five patient treatment buildings, roads, parking lots, sidewalks, and a 500,000 gallon water tower.
The Leech Farm Road Hospital was dedicated on November 29, 1953, and the first patient was admitted two days later. The original hospital had 951 operating beds and an average daily census of 900 patients. Early research studies beginning in 1954, included physiological, psychological, and sociological aspects of schizophrenia and problems in the area of neurological disorders.
In 1971 President Richard M. Nixon appointed Valerija B. Raulinaitis, M.D. as director for the Leech Farm Road Hospital, the first woman ever appointed as a hospital director.
In 1975 a ceremony dedicated the name change of the hospital from Leech Farm Road to Highland Drive. The Highland Drive Division is a campus-style facility composed of more than 20 buildings on 168 acres. Throughout its history Highland Drive served as a stand-alone VA Medical Center with medical and surgical services.
On November 1, 1996, the Highland Drive VAMC consolidated with the University Drive VAMC and the H. John Heinz III Progressive Care Center to become the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System under one management.