Brooklyn's First Voluntary Hospital
The Brooklyn Hospital Center has a nearly 170-year history dating back to 1839 when a gentleman from Buffalo broke a leg on Fulton Street, near Brooklyn City Hall. It soon became clear that there was no place to take the stranger, except the infamous almshouse four miles away. Six years later, Brooklyn City Hospital (later renamed The Brooklyn Hospital) was incorporated by the state legislature.
The hospital has continued to grow since then, playing a critical role in the life of Brooklyn and othe New York City boroughs.
The 19th Century
When the Civil War broke out, The Brooklyn Hospital took on the role of caring for the sick and wounded soldiers of the Union Army — a role it would assume again during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. In World War I, a floor of the West Pavilion with its 60 beds was set aside for the care of sick and disabled sailors.
After the Civil War, in 1869, the Orthopedic Infirmary was opened in the building that had originally housed Pathological Hall. Poor patients from all over Long Island were treated there. Many patients were referred to the hospital's wards, but minor operations were performed in the Infirmary.
A training school for nurses was established in 1880, thanks to the civic-minded women of the Fruit and Flower Mission. It was the first nursing school in Brooklyn and the second one in the State.
An ambulance service was established in 1890 to cover a district that included downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, the Navy Yard and Bedford-Stuyvesant. During its first year of service, the ambulance responded to 971 calls.
By 1893, another building was erected to house one of the first separate maternity departments to be found in a general hospital.
The 20th Century
In 1926, the hospital's Electrocardiograph was installed — the second in Brooklyn — and a Department of Electrocardiography was established. But extensive modernization of equipment and facilities really picked up in the years following World War II. Improvements and additions included a new cardio-pulmonary laboratory for the study of diseases of the blood and circulatory system. A specially designed post-anesthesia room was built. In it, patients would spend the important hours immediately following surgery under the constant supervision of a trained team of nurses and doctors, who checked their reactions until they awoke and could be returned to their rooms. A centrally-piped oxygen system was also installed.
In the 1970s a new pharmacy was added along with a clinical association with the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Long Island University. We also asdded a new clinical laboratory, a hemodialysis service, a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a whole body C.A.T. scanner, a Speech and Hearing Center, a Diabetes and Endocrine Center, residency programs in Neurology, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Ophthalmology, a vascular surgery service, and a training program for Physicians' Assistants supported by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Nuclear Medicine, Cardiology and Oral Surgery also grew rapidly as advances occurred in their respective fields.
In 1990 the official name of the Hospital was changed to The Brooklyn Hospital Center.
The 21st Century
The Brooklyn Hospital Center continued to grow steadily throughout the early years of the new century. Today our highly regarded hospital with its neighborhood Family Health Centers, the latest in technology and nearly 3,000 dedicated medical professionals and staff, provides the highest quality care to nearly 300,000 patients each year.