Staten Island University Hospital celebrates 150-year anniversary
Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 9:09 AM Updated: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 12:13 PM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It was April 19, 1861, when Drs. William C. Anderson and Samuel R. Smith opened a one-room dispensary to provide free medical care to Staten Island residents.
Advance File Photo
The hospital's first graduating class of nurses in 1896 included Mary Bennett Weaver, Summerfield Gause, Martha Washington Zabriskie, Gertrude Taylor, Estelle W. Meese and Agnes Isabel Blain.
From those humble beginnings, through the efforts of countless doctors, nurses and staff, has arisen today's 714-bed Staten Island University Hospital.
At noon yesterday, many of the 5,000 SIUH employees celebrated the hospital's 150th birthday with parties at both campuses.
SIUH CEO and President Anthony Ferreri cut the first slice of the commemorative cake at Ocean Breeze.
In 1929, Ferreri's grandfather was admitted to the hospital for treatment of an infection in his hand. The city paid his hospital bill because he could not afford to pay for the care.
"This further supports my personal conviction that access to health care is everyone's right and further demonstrates our hospital's founding mission: To provide quality care to all regardless of ability to pay," said Ferreri, who has worked for the hospital since 1975.
That mission is now safely entrusted to 1,100 doctors, 1,400 nurses, 400 medical students and 220 residents and fellows.
The infirmary moved several times after its founding. In 1864, the once-a-week dispensary became a 10-bed infirmary on the corner of Bay Street and Union Place in Stapleton; it bore the name of Dr. Smith, a member of the Richmond County Medical Society who was known for treating the poor without compensation in his home.
"To be entrusted with carrying on the mission in my own community is something that's very special to me," said Ferreri. "The hope is that we continue to grow to meet the needs of all the people on Staten Island."
In 1890, the infirmary moved from a small house on Hannah Street to a six-acre site on Castleton Avenue in Tompkinsville. By the end of its first year of operation, 346 inpatients and 600 outpatients had been treated.
The hospital's name was changed to Staten Island Hospital in 1916, and the hospital moved to 475 Seaview Ave. in 1979. It merged with Richmond Memorial Hospital in 1989 to become Staten Island University Hospital, with a campus in Prince's Bay. In 2000, the former Doctors' Hospital in Concord entered the SIUH orbit.
Christine Hollie, associate vice president of operations for SIUH, joined the staff of Doctors' Hospital in 1985.
"Doctors' Hospital was a tiny community hospital, and now we're a huge force to be recognized," said Ms. Hollie.
Gloria Lonz-Miglionica, a registered nurse who has worked for the hospital since 1971, said she takes pride in the hospital's role in the community.
"Everyone lives on the Island — we're one big family. We take care of these people, and then we may run into them in the stores or at the Mall. It makes it more rewarding that they're your neighbors," said Ms. Lonz.
Although technology has improved over the years, she said, "Our focus is still on human touch."
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