Health Care Hall of Fame Past Inductees
William A. Hillenbrand
Inducted in 1991
Hillenbrand started the Hill-Rom Co. at the age of 23 on Oct. 23, 1929. The company opened for business less than a week before the stock market crashed and the Great Depression set in. Despite the unfortunate timing, Hillenbrand pressed on and created the concept of “bringing the home into the hospital.” Bucking the trend at the time of hospitals having all metal white beds, Hillenbrand decided to manufacture beds made of wood and steel to create a more comfortable, homey experience for patients. To sell his beds, Hillenbrand came up with the idea to let hospitals try them on a floor for free for six months. If the administrator didn't like the beds, Hill-Rom would take them back with no charge. Over the years, the company was known for introducing many innovations in hospital beds—from the first adjustable crank double pedestal over bed table in 1933 to the first therapeutically designed rocker/recliner in 1972.