Coney Island Hospital first began in 1875 as a First Aid Station located on the oceanfront beach near West Third Street where emergency treatment was given. The cases consisted chiefly of lacerations of the feet caused by broken bottles. On May 12, 1902, a small wooden building, one and one half stories high, located on Sea Breeze Avenue, was rented to serve as an emergency hospital during the summer months. Although referred to as the Sea Breeze Hospital, it was officially known as Reception Hospital, and was actually an annex of the Kings County Hospital. This unit had accommodations for 20 beds and facilities for emergency treatment. Patients requiring surgery or prolonged treatment and care were taken to Kings County Hospital, about seven miles away, in a horse-drawn ambulance.
With the rapid population growth in the southern part of Brooklyn, the need for a large and permanent hospital in this area became apparent. In 1908, construction of a 100 bed hospital was started on land purchased just north of Coney Island Creek and east of Ocean Parkway. On May 18, 1910, dedication ceremonies were held. Coney Island Hospital consisted of six buildings, namely; Main Hospital Building, Nurses Home, Employees Dormitory, Laboratory Building, Power Plant and Laundry Building. As veterans returned from World War II, the shorefront community experienced a population explosion and so in 1954 the two white brick towers that make up the current hospital were opened. In Spring 2006, Coney Island Hospital opened a new inpatient bed tower to provide care to its ever-changing, ever-growing community.
Southern Brooklyn has long been a Mecca to new immigrants. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was ethnic Jews, Irish and Italians who settled here. In the ’50s and ’60s, African-Americans migrated from the South to live and work in New York City. Many settled in Coney Island where there was newly constructed affordable housing. From the late 1970s through the early 1990s, Brighton Beach became known as “Little Odessa” because it became the home of refugees fleeing religious and political persecution in the former Soviet Union. In the last 10 years, immigrants from many parts of the world have made southern Brooklyn their home as they sought a better life for themselves and their children. During its years of service, Coney Island Hospital has established its reputation for clinical excellence and culturally competent care. The hospital has been recognized for its clinical innovations in Primary Care, Adolescent Medicine, Nuclear Medicine and Emergency Services. The hospital’s staff is as diverse as the patients they serve. Interpreter services can be provided at any time of the day or night in over 130 languages.
People from all over the world have not only found a home in southern Brooklyn but they have chosen to make their medical home at Coney Island Hospital.