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About Gouverneur Health

About Gouverneur - History

Gouverneur opened its doors as a community hospital on October 5, 1885. The facility, located in an abandoned police station, was created to deal with the overcrowded, unsanitary living conditions that arose on the Lower East Side because of enormous population growth.

Gouverneur served as an emergency hospital and ambulance station for the congested waterfront district, and worked in collaboration with Bellevue Hospital, located just two and a half miles away. The first medical staff included one visiting physician and surgeon, one consulting surgeon and a three-member house staff.

The community's health care needs continued to increase as the area's population grew. In 1908, Gouverneur opened a new, larger facility to meet these demands. Gouverneur was the first municipal hospital to establish a tuberculosis clinic and the first to establish a day camp on a ferryboat, the "Westfield." Later named "Camp Huddleston," the program provided care for undernourished adults and children. Gouverneur was the first hospital to cooperate with Miss Lillian Wald when she founded the Henry Street Settlement. It was also the first hospital to have a female physician, Dr. Emily Barringer, on ambulance duty. Gouverneur's innovations quickly spread to other healthcare facilities.

During both World Wars, Gouverneur's staff continued to serve not only the families of the community but took on the larger job of serving the nation, as well. In World War II, nearly one third of the Gouverneur's employees joined our fighting forces as doctors, administrators, nurses, social workers, technicians, aides and clerks.

The New Gouverneur

To continue to serve an increasing number of patients and to provide additional services, Gouverneur opened a new facility, located on Madison Street, in 1972. The building's outpatient services flourished and in 1976, the Gouverneur Skilled Nursing Facility opened. A year later, the Skilled Nursing Facility expanded to 196 beds which were immediately occupied by chronically ill geriatric patients. Adapting to the changing needs of the Lower East Side community, and prompted by the nursing home scandals which closed many poorly equipped and managed facilities in the City, Gouverneur Health was eager to offer this new service to a population long denied adequate nursing care facilities.

New Immigrants, New Needs

Gouverneur Health has always been at the forefront of culturally competent care and has added innovative programs and services to accommodate the ever-changing population of the Lower East Side.

In 1984, the Asian Mental Health Program was opened to meet the needs of a growing Asian population. The program, still in existence today, is staffed entirely by physicians, nurses, social workers, aides and clerks who are fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and English.

In 1985, the Roberto Clemente Center opened and provided the first bilingual and bicultural mental health program for Hispanic patients. Today, the Roberto Clemente Center continues to serve the needs of the Spanish-speaking community in the East Village and provides primary care as well as mental health care. 

In response to community needs, Gouverneur Health opened a Mobile Crisis Unit staffed by physicians, nurses and social workers to restore order in critical emotional and social situations. "Project H.E.L.P." was founded by Gouverneur's department of mental health to provide food, shelter and psychiatric care as needed, to the growing number of homeless men and women on the Lower East Side. These programs became models for similar programs throughout the City and the country.

Advances in medical technology and the rise of managed care changed the direction of health care in the 1990s. Gouverneur Health became part of the south Manhattan Health Care Network of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, with Bellevue and Coler-Goldwater Hospitals.

Over the last decade, Gouverneur Health has carefully examined and redesigned its services to create a more patient-centered environment, with a renewed focus on patient education and wellness. Many services have expanded, and Saturday hours have been added for our patients' convenience. New healthcare models were developed and put into place to help patients manage chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Today, Gouverneur is embarking on a large-scale modernization project that includes renovation of the existing building and new construction for a new ambulatory care pavilion and bed tower. The project will transform the ambulatory care center into The Center for Community Health and Wellness and the Nursing Facility into The Residence at Gouverneur Court. The expected completion date for this project is fall of 2012.

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