The history From pioneer to centre of excellence

The clinic has come a long way and made tremendous technological progress between its founding by Wilhelm Schulthess and today’s centre of excellence. What has remained over the years, however, is the demand for the highest quality in the interests of our patients.

It didn’t take long for Wilhelm Schulthess (1855-1917), internist, paediatrician and general practitioner, to specialise in orthopaedics. In 1883, he joined forces with his surgical partner, PD Dr August Lüning, to found the “Orthopaedic Institute” on Löwenstrasse in Zurich. Schulthess was also co-founder and the first chief physician of the Balgrist Hospital, which opened in 1912.

In 1896, the Orthopaedic Institute moved to a new building on Neumünsterallee in Zurich, where it later expanded into adjacent buildings. In 1935, the clinic was turned into a charitable foundation.

Schulthess ran the institute together with Lüning and his son-in-law, Dr Eugen Hallauer, who carried forward his father-in-law’s conservative treatment methods. It wasn’t until much later on that the clinic opened up to newer, modern surgical treatment methods.

Claire Hallauer-Schulthess, wife of Dr Eugen Hallauer, also played an important role in the hospital's history. She set up a women’s education and nursing school as well as a vocational school for young girls with physical disabilities. Not only did she plug a huge gap in the market, she also pioneered what can still be considered a modern rehabilitation concept even today. 

In 1962, Prof. Dr. med. Norbert Gschwend took over the management of the financially stricken Schulthess Klinik. He advocated the transition to orthopaedic surgery and the use of artificial joints, which created a stir at that time. He also consistently drove forward specialisation as well as rheumatism orthopaedics.

The appointment of Prof. Dr. med. Heiner Scheier as co-chief physician finally marked the foundation of today’s team structure, divided into areas of competence. The consulting roles of the two chief physicians at the university clinics led to the Schulthess Klinik being considered equal to a category-A training centre for orthopaedic surgery.

In 1985, the Department of Health of the Canton of Zurich offered the Wilhelm Schulthess Foundation public building land in Lengghalde, thus firmly establishing the Schulthess Klinik in politics and in the canton. Since 1995, the Schulthess Klinik has been housed in state-of-the-art buildings between Balgrist and Burghölzli in Lengghalde on the outskirts of Zurich. In the summer of 2006, an extension was built to meet the needs associated with the steadily growing number of operations and medical procedures being provided.

Today, the Schulthess Klinik performs around 12,000 musculoskeletal operations and medical procedures every year. The clinic also maintains a scientific Research department and has training status “A” in orthopaedic surgery and “B” in hand surgery. The clinic has also been appointed a Swiss Olympic Medical Center.