St. Francis Hospital's History of Caring and Compassion
In 1922, two Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were traveling door-to-door selling embroidered cloths. Their goal was to support their Order's missionary work. One day, they happened upon a benefactor they would never forget.
Carlos Munson, of Manhasset, NY, was a Quaker and owner of the Munson Steamship Lines. He offered the Sisters an opportunity to further their good works and let them achieve more for the community than they could ever hope to earn in handicrafts. Munson began by presenting the Sisters with a sizable donation, in the form of a home and 15 acres of land. The house and land soon became known as “Elderfields.” Munson’s request? That the home and land be used as a summer camp for inner-city children.
Fast-forward to 1936. Fifteen summers had passed at Elderfields. The orchards and meadows of the Munson property continued their role as a refuge for countless children throughout those years. At the same time, city hospitals were struggling to care for increasing numbers of children with rheumatic fever. At the request of a hospital in Brooklyn, the sisters agreed to accept twelve children for care.
Soon, Munson's very own horse and carriage stable were gone—turned into a small sanatorium for the afflicted children.
For the Sisters, each day at Elderfields brought new challenges. With very little money and few alternatives for treatment, the Sisters managed to care for the sickly children, working with Dr. Leo Taran of Brooklyn, NY. Taran treated the children and made sure they received plenty of bed rest, too. As word spread about the sanatorium, the number of children desiring care grew as well. As a result, the Sisters were forced to turn away some children because of limited resources. That is, until grants from a protestant welfare agency, the Martha Hall Foundation, came to the rescue. The grants gave the Sisters new power to help children and enabled them to expand Elderfields into what would become the St. Francis Hospital and Sanatorium for Cardiac Children.
In 1954, St. Francis Hospital opened its doors to adult patients as well. Marking the occasion in February of 1954, the Hospital's name was changed to St. Francis Hospital and Sanatorium. As a result, the St. Francis Hospital staff gained the distinction of treating many types of cardiovascular disease as well as patients of all ages.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Hospital added a full range of general medical services to complement its cardiac program. In 1979, St. Francis Hospital became the state's only specialty designated Heart Center. In the 1980s, with the recruitment of leading cardiovascular specialists, St. Francis Hospital became New York State's leading heart center, performing the highest caseload of open-heart surgeries and cardiac catheterizations.
Today, St. Francis Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in cardiovascular care and surgery. St. Francis Hospital treats many kinds of disease, with an emphasis on cardiovascular care. The Hospital has also expanded its mission to include the prevention of coronary artery disease as well as community education. Best of all, St. Francis Hospital has remained on the leading edge of healthcare technology and innovation.