(Oct. 10, 1851-Jan. 23, 1941). Pioneer in urology, “father” of City Hospital, and medical educator, William Niles Wishard Sr. was born in Greenwood, Indiana, to Harriet Moreland Wishard and William Henry Wishard. The elder Wishard was a prominent surgeon and Marion County Coroner, and he cofounded the Indiana State Medical Society in 1849. William Niles married Alice Martin Woollen, who died in 1880. He married Frances Cornelia Scoville in 1896. The couple had two children who survived to adulthood, William Niles Wishard Jr. and Charles Scoville Wishard.

Aerial view of the hospital grounds.
Wishard Hospital, located along the White River in Indianapolis, n.d. Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

William Niles Wishard graduated from Wabash College, Indiana Medical College, and Miami Medical College (Cincinnati). He practiced medicine in Indianapolis for three years, then became superintendent of Indianapolis’s public hospital, City Hospital, serving from 1879-1887.

As superintendent, Wishard initiated the construction of a three-building modern hospital to replace the inadequate facility he inherited. He instituted medical and surgical antisepsis procedures and helped establish Indiana’s first nursing school, Indianapolis Training School for Nurses.

After his two terms as City Hospital superintendent, Wishard pursued further medical studies in urology, particularly genito-urinary surgery. No training for the emerging specialty was available in the Midwest, so he traveled to New York and Berlin to study. Wishard practiced exclusively in genitourinary and venereal diseases for the rest of his life, pioneering prostatectomy and related prostate gland surgery. He served on the surgical staff of City Hospital and Methodist Hospital and the consulting staff of St. Vincent Hospital, the City Dispensary, and Bobbs Dispensary (see Dispensaries). He designed several different forms of catheters as well as a modified cystoscope for diagnosing conditions in female patients and chaired the urology specialty at Indiana University School Of Medicine.

The hallmarks of Wishard’s hospital management career, interest in current knowledge, an open mind, and devotion to patient care, defined his post-hospital career and kept him at the forefront of Indiana medicine. Wishard held many influential positions in state and national medical organizations. He belonged to the Founders’ Group of the American Board of Urology, Mississippi Valley Medical Association, American Urological Association, and served as Surgeon General of Indiana.

Indianapolis’s public hospital has undergone several name changes over its long history, including City Hospital (1866-1947) and Marion County General Hospital (1947-1975). The hospital became Wishard Memorial Hospital (1975-2014) in honor of its pioneering superintendent. In December 2013, a new era began when the state-of-the-art Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital opened to replace the obsolete Wishard Memorial Hospital facility.

Revised February 2021

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