The Woman's Hospital of the State of New York

(Fourth avenue and Fiftieth street)

The advances made in almost every branch of medicine and surgery during the present century have far exceeded those of any similar period in the history of the world, yet woman, borne down by peculiar and loathsome sufferings, has sighed in vain for relief until within the last few years. In 1852, Dr. J. Marion Sims, originally from Alabama, made known to the profession the result of his long and patient investigations of some of those hitherto incurable ills that afflict woman. He had discovered the surgical remedy whereby with one or more operations a disease of the most distressing character, that had for ages baffled the skill of Europe, was radically cured. The announcement was hailed with high satisfaction by the medical fraternity. The successful treatment of these cases, it was found, required the careful management in minute detail of such trained nurses as are rarely found in private houses. Secondly, the operator, in addition to the knowledge and skill of a good surgeon, must possess peculiar adroitness of manipulation, the gift of very few, requiring large and constant experience not often attained in a general hospital. Third, the successful treatment of many

Patients could be conducted nowhere but in a hospital, on these considerations it was deemed expedient to establish an institution where this treatment could be made a specialty. The subject being laid "before a number of wealthy benevolent ladies of New York, they entered upon the task of founding an Institution with a very commendable zeal.

In February, 1855, the "Woman's Hospital association was formed, with a board of managers consisting of thirty-four ladies, a work of woman for the benefit of her own sex. On the 4th of May, 1855, the association opened a hospital in a hired building, with forty beds, and conducted its operations for over twelve years on this limited scale. During that period, however, over twelve hundred patients were discharged, either cured or greatly relieved, besides the hundreds of outdoor patients treated. The city generously contributed a block of ground lying on Fourth avenue and Fiftieth street, and in May, 1866, the corner-stone of the Woman's Hospital was laid. On the 10th of October, 1867, the new building was thrown open for inspection and for appropriate services, and on the 15th for the reception of patients. While the building was being erected, the property occupied on Madison avenue was sold, and the patients removed to Thirteenth street, where they continued eleven months. The new Hospital is one of the prettiest buildings on the island. Its basement is of polished stone, the four additional stories of brick, with angles and pilasters ornamented with finely wrought  blocks. The windows are beautifully arched, the ceilings higher than 111 any other hospital in the city, and an elevator ascends from basement to fourth floor, to the great convenience of patients, nurses, and visitors. The building contains 75 beds, and cost, with its furniture, $200,000. The upper fl^or is devoted to charity patients from New York State only, who are required to render some service in the labor of the house, if able.

The price of board on the third floor is six dollars per week, on the second floor eight dollars, the first floor being divided into private rooms which rent for fifteen or twenty dollars per week. During the year closing November, 1869, 236 patients received treatment in the Institution; of these, 151 were cured, 13 improved, 6 discharged as incurable or unsuitable for this treatment, 6 died, leaving 60 still in the Hospital. The expenses of the Institution during the year amounted to $22,000, of which sum $14,000 were received from the pay patients, and the remainder raised by subscriptions and donations. The surgical department, under the direction of the skillful Dr. Emmet, has been so organized that out-door patients are gratuitously treated three days in the week, and during the year 1,369 of this class had been admitted. The report of the year closing November, 1870, showed that 262 patients had been under treatment in the wards, of whom 167 were discharged cured, 17 improved, 12 received no benefit, and 9 died, leaving in the Hospital 57. Over eighteen hundred out-door patients had also received medical treatment. The annual expenses had slightly decreased, as had also the receipts from the patients and from donations. Ovarian tumors of astonishing magnitude have been successfully removed at this Hospital.

The business of the association is conducted by a board of males styled governors, and an associate board of females termed supervisors. A hundred ladies have pledged to supply the annual deficiency in the finances, the liability of each not to exceed one hundred dollars. They deem this course preferable to fairs, lotteries, etc. The State, city, and community have honored themselves in contributing toward the establishment of this much-needed Institution.

Thousands of physicians from all parts of our country have attended on clinical days, and returned to their own fields to put in practice the knowledge acquired.

The founder of the Institution has introduced the discovery into England and France, receiving distinguished honors from those nations, but, what is more desirable still, the satisfaction of knowing that his system for the amelioration of human suffering is being reduced to practice in all parts of Europe.

During 1869 a modest gentleman, Mr. Baldwin, whose name was withheld until after his death, contributed the princely sum of $84,000 toward the erection of another pavilion, similar to the one in use. The association was still somewhat in debt on the present building, but this munificent donation has imposed the duty of raising an additional $50,000 to complete the project, which will probably be accomplished at no distant day. In 1868 Mr. Henry Young contributed $3,000 for the endowment of a bed which he is allowed to assign to such patients as he shall choose at all times. During the last year Mrs. Robert Kay and Mrs. H. D. Wyman have each contributed a similar sum. The managers desire to have these excellent examples followed until half of the beds in the Institution are free, and if a sufficient endowment could be secured it would be their pleasure to make the Woman's Hospital entirely free to every suffering female who may need its treatment.

The fame of the Woman's Hospital has spread through all the land. In the spring of 1870 the wife of an army officer, suffering under a malady pronounced incurable, came from Arizona. With the courage of a brave and true woman, stimulated by the love of life that she might still minister to husband and children, she travelled incessantly fourteen days and nights, through the three thousand miles that separated her from the goal of her hopes. When presented to the surgeon in-chief, he informed her with marked kindness that the chances were sadly against her. She calmly scanned his face for a moment, and then replied," Before I saw your face, sir, I feared I should die; but now I know I shall live." Faith and skill wrought together, she recovered, and carried to her distant home grateful memories of the Woman's Hospital.
Website: The History
Article Name: The Woman's Hospital of the State of New York
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: New York and its Institutions, 1609-1873 by Rev. J.F. Richmond; publisher: E.B. Treat, 805 Broadway-New York (1872)
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