By some remarkable coincidence, many Mount Sinai Health System buildings have been dedicated or opened in May.
The Beth Israel Hospitalopened its first facility in a rented loft in May 1890 and then moved to 196 Broadway the next year. In May of 1892 they moved again, this time to 206 E. Broadway and 195 Division St. Beth Israel remained at this location until the completion of the Jefferson & Cherry Street building in 1902. Beth Israel did not have another May opening until May 15, 1966 when the Linsky Pavilion opened.
Beth Israel’s Jefferson and Cherry Street location
The Linsky Pavilion, which opened in May 1966
On May 17, 1855, a religious service was held to inaugurate the opening of The Jews’ Hospital in the City of New York, which became The Mount Sinai Hospital in 1866. Presiding at the inauguration was Rabbi J.J. Lyons, with Rabbis Leo, Sternberger, Rubin, Cohen, Waterman, Schickler and Tebrich serving as cantors.
The original building of The Mount Sinai Hospital
The second site of the Hospital
When Mount Sinai had outgrown this site, the Trustees decided to move uptown to the block of Lexington Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets. The cornerstone for the new hospital was laid on May 25, 1870 and the completed hospital was opened on May 29, 1872.
The 1904 building along 100th Street
Within 25 years, the Hospital had again filled its site and decided to move to its current home next to Central Park, between 100th and 101st Streets. The Park ensured that the hospital would not again get surrounded by the bustle of the City’s streets. The cornerstone for this new hospital was laid on May 22, 1901. In May 1922, Mount Sinai marked the completion of a massive expansion project that extended the hospital across 100th Street down to 99th Street. This included 1184 5th Avenue, which today is the oldest building on the Mount Sinai campus.
On May 23, 1952, The Mount Sinai Hospital celebrated the dedication of the Klingenstein Pavilion on 5th Avenue.
This was built as Mount Sinai’s Maternity Pavilion, and remains the home of our OB-GYN department. At the same event, the Atran Laboratory and the Henry W. Berg, MD Laboratory buildings were both dedicated as well.
The Klingenstein Pavilion on 5th Avenue
Vice President Ford and Walter Annenberg looking at the portrait of Mrs. Annenberg at the dedication in 1974
And finally, in perhaps Mount Sinai’s biggest dedication, on May 26, 1974, the new Mount Sinai School of Medicine welcomed Vice President Gerald Ford and the Annenberg family to celebrate the formal dedication of the Annenberg Building. When this building opened, it was the thought to be the largest space in this country devoted to medical education.
St. Luke’s Hospital on 5th Avenue
The Mount Sinai Hospital was not alone in its fascination with May for buildings. On May 21, 1857, the St. Luke’s Hospital chapel opened at the Hospital’s first site and a year later (May 13, 1858) the hospital itself opened at 5th Ave between 54th and 55th Streets.
The Woman’s Hospital in the State of New York, which became the Women’s Division of St. Luke’s Hospital in 1952, also had a May dedication tradition. On May 4, 1855 the Woman’s Hospital was opened at 83 Madison Avenue. Almost 50 years later, on May 17, 1904, the cornerstone was laid at a new site at Amsterdam Avenue and 110th Street.
The first home of the Woman’s Hospital
The 1904 west side Woman’s Hospital building
Finally, on May 25, 1965 the Woman’s Hospital opened in a separate building on the St. Luke’s campus on Amsterdam Avenue and 114th Street.
The creation of the Mount Sinai Health System in 2013, formed by the merger of the Mount Sinai Medical Center with Continuum Health Partners, brought some of New York City’s major hospitals together under a single organizational umbrella. The individual hospitals making up the Health System, however, often themselves incorporate multiple hospitals with which they have merged and affiliated over the years. As the Archives continues to collect, process and make available the records of the former Beth Israel Medical Center, we have acquired material relating to various smaller hospitals associated with Beth Israel. The records of these institutions provide a glimpse into the wide variety of small hospitals that existed in New York during the twentieth century.
Doctors Hospital was an exclusive voluntary hospital, founded in 1929 by members of New York City’s social elite, which catered to the needs of wealthy private patients. Its Upper East Side location on East End Avenue overlooked Carl Schurz Park and Gracie Mansion (pictured, at center). In 1987 it became part of the Beth Israel Medical Center and was briefly known as Beth Israel Hospital North before being renamed Beth Israel Medical Center Singer Division. It closed in 2004, and its building was torn down the following year; the site is now occupied by luxury residences. The minutes of the Doctors Hospital Board of Directors, recently discovered in offsite storage associated with Beth Israel, are now a part of the collection of the Mount Sinai Archives.
Jewish Maternity Hospital
The Jewish Maternity Hospital was founded in 1906. Located at 270 Broadway, it provided maternity care to the Lower East Side’s growing community of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. At the urging of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, which hoped to consolidate its medical activities during the lean years of the Great Depression, it merged in 1930 with Beth Israel, which had recently moved to a state of the art modern hospital on Stuyvesant Square. For some time the two institutions maintained separate wards within the hospital building, but by the 1940s the Maternity Hospital had been absorbed into the obstetrics department at Beth Israel. Three volumes of its patient registers, dated 1921-1933, are housed in the Mount Sinai Archives.
New York Lying-In Hospital / Manhattan General Hospital
The New York Lying-In Hospital already had a long institutional history, dating back to the yellow fever epidemic of 1798, when it moved in 1902 to a newly built home at 307 2nd Avenue on the northwest corner of Stuyvesant Square. The hospital’s time at this location was a productive one, during which members of the hospital staff pioneered the use of pharmaceutical pain management to ease the pain of childbirth. In 1932 the New York Lying-In Hospital left the site to become the OB-GYN department of the New York Hospital at its campus on the Upper East Side. The building on Stuyvesant Square became home to the proprietary Manhattan General Hospital. In 1965 the building was purchased by Beth Israel and became the Morris J. Bernstein Institute, a pioneering inpatient facility for addiction treatment. The building was sold in 1984 and is now an apartment complex, but its origin as a maternity hospital can still be seen in the elegant sculptures of infants displayed on its facade. The records of the Lying-In Hospital itself are in the Archives of the Weill Cornell Medical College, but the Mount Sinai Archives has a small assortment of records related to the Bernstein Institute during the period that it occupied the former Lying-In Hospital building.
This week (December 4-10, 2022) is National Handwashing Awareness Week. As we all know, hand hygiene is a critical component of clinical care and patient safety. In this post we’ll be looking at handwashing campaigns at Mount Sinai Beth Israel over the years. (Click on the images for a larger view, or see the links below to view the item in our catalog.)
For more information about former Beth Israel locations, see the Building Beth Israel series. An interactive map of Beth Israel historical locations is available here.
The start date of an institution seems like a clear-cut fact, but often the records that would ideally shine a light on this milestone are actually a bit murky. The founding of the Phillips School of Nursing at Mount Sinai Beth Israel (PSON) is a great example of this historical ambiguity.
During a recent reference request, I had the opportunity to research the establishment of PSON more fully. I spent hours poring over the Beth Israel Board of Directors minutes tracking down this information. Reading through this material was extremely time consuming – the minutes are handwritten in large, loopy cursive, and most entries didn’t even have a passing mention of the school. (When one meeting had discussion about the Hospital purchasing a typewriter, I felt like it wasn’t a moment too soon!)
The earliest mention of nursing at Beth Israel Hospital is in the Board of Directors minutes of April 25, 1891, when a nurse applied for a position at the Hospital as it prepared to move to its new space at 196 East Broadway, and was hired to begin working on May 15 of that year at a salary of $23 per month (about $730 today). These early years at Beth Israel (established 1890) were marked by financial precarity, and it was noted in July 1891 that the Hospital must “limit itself to accepting ten patients for the foreseeable future, these to be serviced by 2 nurses only, one doctor, one cook, and if the Hospital would also reduce other expenditures…the institution would survive.”
In the years following, an added concern was hiring nurses who were trained. As was a common model for the time, Beth Israel Hospital opened its Training School for Nurses to supply the hospital with a fixed number of student nurses, who provided most of the nursing service to inpatients and were supervised by a smaller number of trained, professional nurses. We know that the school first opened at the Jefferson and Cherry Streets location with a two-year curriculum – but when exactly?
The minutes reveal only a rough outline of the founding of the school. The first mention of it was on October 11, 1898, when the idea was referred to the Medical Board in conjunction with the Board of Directors, Training School Committee. The committee consisted of two members, “Hurwitz and Fleck[?].” Two months later, the committee wrote a proposal for the school, and on March 7, 1899, it was officially established.
The school wasn’t mentioned again in the minutes for three full years, and renewed interest coincided with the hospital’s preparation to move to the Jefferson and Cherry Streets location. On March 4, 1902, the committee “was instructed to proceed at once with the necessary arrangements for nursing in the new hospital” in addition to “other work” as assigned. On May 6, 1902, the committee reported that “requests for the recommendation of a Supt. Of Nurses have been sent out and that the German Hospital recommended a Mrs. Chapman[?].” (German Hospital was renamed to Lenox Hill Hospital in 1918.) This superintendent of nurses would have supervised the student nurses during their training.
Finally, the minutes from late 1902 imply that the student nurses had begun their work. On October 7, November 11, and December 9, 1902, the minutes state that the nurses’ quarters were “insufficient”, and it was moved to find a better place to rent for them. The November minutes also reflect some logistical challenges around finding the right number of nurses per ward. There’s no definitive school start date mentioned.
The unprocessed Phillips School of Nursing records also have materials related to the hundredth anniversary of the school taking place in 2004. Did these celebrants have access to historical documentation that is not present in the Archives? It is difficult to say. The celebration, called “A Century of Caring,” honored the ten graduates of the first class in 1904: Rose Bergen, Elizabeth Berman, Fannie Finn, Rose Goldman, Rose Hyman, Julia Meyers, Lena Rabinowitz, Sophie Reichin, Elizabeth Stein, and Minnie Vogel.
By carefully reading the Board of Directors minutes, searching through PSON’s own records, and seeing the institution’s own conception of its anniversary year – all this taken together – we’ve concluded that the Beth Israel Hospital Training School for Nurses was established in 1899, with the first class beginning in 1902 and graduating in 1904. We feel that we can more reliably count on these dates than in the past, and hope that this account supplies helpful context to the archival labor that goes into these historical understandings.
A history of the ambulance service at Roosevelt Hospital, today’s Mount Sinai West, is available here. See the Building Beth Israel series for more information about the history of Mount Sinai Beth Israel. An interactive map of Beth Israel historical locations is available here.
National EMS Week is May 15-21. In this blog post, we’re celebrating by looking back at a brief history of emergency medical services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.
The first ambulance service began at Beth Israel Hospital in 1906. It first used a horse-drawn carriage, later switching to automobiles in 1915. During this early period, ambulances were manned by members of the house staff, including Nettie Shapiro, MD, the first female house staff at MSBI in 1909.
By 1984, Beth Israel was “the first voluntary hospital in New York City to have attending physicians fully trained in emergency service on duty around the clock, every day of the week.” New York City did not mandate such 24-hour care in EMS participant hospitals until June 1, 1987.
In 1990, the Division of Emergency Medical Services was named for David B. Kriser, a Beth Israel trustee, in honor of a $3 million bequest from him. This led to a major renovation, and the division doubled in size.