Maimonides Medical Center Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary Today


maimonidesFor the past 100 years, Maimonides Medical Center has remained a vital part of the Brooklyn community. Opened in 1911 as a medical dispensary serving the poor and needy residents of the surrounding Brooklyn community, Maimonides has developed into a premier specialty care medical center and one of the largest teaching hospitals in the nation.

The hospital will celebrate the milestone with a gala event at 4802 10th Avenue, between 47th Street and 49th Street, beginning at 4 p.m. will be on hand to cover the celebration.

The story of Maimonides’ 100 years of compassionate medical care for its diverse and ever-changing communities is one that has been well documented over the decades in hospital board minutes, newspaper articles, scholarly books and even in the captured memories of some of those community members who graced us with their recollections of life in and around Maimonides and Borough Park. The history of how this small dispensary evolved into a world-class medical center owes a debt of gratitude to those who helped bring this centennial story to life.

In June of 1910 a small group of neighborhood women gathered at the Borough Park home of Olga Lewinsohn to talk about the needs of their growing, mostly poor, working class, Jewish immigrant community. In that year, they created the New Utrecht Aid Society. Its certificate of incorporation articulated the society’s original purpose – “To obtain funds by voluntary subscription, the proceeds thereof to be devoted to furnishing food, fuel and clothing, as well as other necessities of life, to the distressed and needy poor, without regard to race, creed or color.” It was not long before it became apparent that they needed to expand their vision and create a dispensary to meet the medical needs of the community. The women set to work raising the funds needed for its creation.In the later part of the 19th century, as the first generation of Jewish immigrants began to enjoy success and move from the tenements of the Lower East Side of New York City to the more tranquil borough of Brooklyn, they carried with them their desire to establish neighborhood institutions that would ease their acculturation into their new communities. They set down roots, built synagogues and hospitals and took on the important role of voluntary leadership of these institutions. Their efforts and determination to create a Jewish hospital to meet the cultural and religious needs of their coreligionists and treat the medical needs of all regardless of race or religion, established for generations to come, Maimonides special approach to medical care delivered in a compassionate manner.

By the early 1920s, dramatic changes in medical care were underway. New minimum standards for physician training were being established. Advancements in scientific medicine and new technologies to treat medical conditions led to their emergence as serious academic fields of study. At the same time, hospital management was shifting from the hands of well-meaning voluntary leaders to those of the professionally trained medical experts. United Israel-Zion Hospital was moving to meet the new challenges and become a strong, academic community hospital for the people of Borough Park and its neighboring communities.

As World War II began to unfold and America went off to war, Israel Zion administrators and leaders faced the growing challenge of how to keep the hospital staffed as many of its doctors and other personnel left their jobs and headed off to war.

Finally, the war came to an end. War-weary soldiers returned home eager to restart their lives. For Israel-Zion, the end of the war meant it was time to expand the hospital facilities to meet the medical needs of its growing communities.

Last year, “Hospital Compare,” the US government website that helps the public review the quality of care in hospitals, just published the most recent data on mortality rates for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients. Of nearly 5,000 hospitals in the nation, only nine performed better than the national rate in treating heart attacks, 41 in treating heart failure, and 41 in treating pneumonia.

Maimonides Medical Center was the only hospital in the nation to perform better than the national rate in all three categories of patient care.

Maimonides Medical Center is recognized as a national leader in implementing electronic patient records. This dedication to staying ahead of the curve in technology combined with a daily focus on fundamentals is the key to achieving outstanding patient outcomes.

{By Noam Newscenter}