Jacobi Medical Center is a municipal hospital, under the direction of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, in Morris Park, Bronx, New York.
Founded in 1955 as Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, the hospital opened concurrent with the opening of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of the Yeshiva University. For the first time, a medical school and a municipal hospital center entered into a formal affiliation agreement at the same time that they were both being built and created; this affiliation remains until now, and Jacobi Medical Center is a University Hospital of Einstein.
Jacobi was named in honor of Dr. Abraham Jacobi, who is considered to be the father of American pediatrics.
At the turn of the century, the area where Jacobi Medical Center would ultimately be established was known for the Morris Park Racecourse built by millionaire John A. Morris in 1889.
In the early 20th century however, a fire destroyed the grandstand, and the racetrack closed. Much of the land was divided up and sold for residential development. In 1949, a 64-acre (260,000 m2) parcel was purchased by the New York City Department of Hospitals to establish a tertiary care facility and teaching hospital with a campus-like health care environment – one which would be located well away from urban congestion, traffic noise and fumes. This campus of healthcare services – originally called the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center – would provide both a hospital for acute care (Jacobi Hospital) as well as an adjacent and affiliated hospital for tuberculosis care (Van Etten Hospital – also known as Building #5, currently part of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Block Research Pavilion). Bronx-native architect Anthony J. DePace has been linked to a 1960 building here.
The desire to create a pristine and peaceful setting was motivated in large part by the lengthy treatment protocol required for tuberculosis patients at that time. The site selection was also the function of another timely consideration: the tensions of the Cold War. With its easy access to highways, railways, navigable waterways and airports, the site was ideally suited for use as a large war-time evacuation center, and its placement in an outer borough with plans calling for the creation of vast sub-basements were deliberate measures to avoid fallout from a possible nuclear attack.
Following several years of construction, Van Etten Hospital, named in honor of Dr. Nathan B. Van Etten, a well-known Bronx practitioner with deep concern for the sick poor, opened in September 1954 with 500 beds. About one year later on November 1, 1955, Jacobi Hospital, named for Dr. Abraham Jacobi, pediatrician and advocate of quality infant care, opened its doors with 898 beds.
Although coincidental, Yeshiva University had at this same time secured a charter with the NYS Board of Regents to establish a new medical school. When it came time for site selection, University advisers recommended establishment of the school adjacent to and affiliated with the new municipal hospital in the Bronx, construction of which was by then well underway. Hospital representatives similarly found the arrangement an attractive one. As a result, an affiliation agreement was created between the new Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, a mutually beneficial teaching, research, and patient care relationship which continues, albeit in a different form, to this day.
From early on, Jacobi’s medical accomplishments and innovations in patient care were many. In the 1950s, it was the first municipal hospital which provided an emergency room staffed with pediatric house officers as well as medical house officers. Van Etten, its chronic care affiliate, established several new protocols for the treatment of tuberculosis patients, most notably the eventual elimination of the face masks which had heightened patients’ fear and isolation, and the establishment of the first Home Care Program for tuberculosis in NYC. Jacobi’s clinicians in pediatrics made significant contributions in diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart disease in children, identified congenital abnormalities which caused renal tubular acidosis in children, and were the first to describe a seriously prolonged jaundice in infants. Jacobi psychiatrists were the first to create a psychiatric day hospital in a municipal facility, allowing patients to receive treatment during the day while living at home.
In the 1960s, surgeons at Jacobi performed the world’s first successful clinical coronary artery bypass surgery; on May 2, 1960, Robert H. Goetz performed a right internal thoracic artery-to-right coronary artery anastomosis using a tantalum ring in a 38-year-old man. Cardiac catheterization on postoperative day 14 showed a patent stented anastomosis. The patient was anticoagulated with warfarin and remained free of angina for a year. He died at Jacobi on June 23, 1961, of a posterior wall myocardial infarction. Autopsy was not performed, and the long-term patency of the anastomosis was not established. They established the first NIH Clinical Research Center for the care and study of critically injured patients in the country. The Center’s work with severely burned patients led it to develop a new, highly effective method of hyperalimentation which was quickly adapted in burn protocols world-wide. Its research also prompted the use of germ-free isolators in the Operating Room and at the bedside to prevent infection. Using this brand new technology, Jacobi obstetricians delivered the first “germ-free” baby in the world. The Center also studied and successfully treated patients with serious metabolic and genetic disorders, such as atherosclerosis and Wilson’s Disease. Jacobi anesthesiologists developed the Gertie Marx Spinal Needle, a standard still used today for administration of the epidural block during labor. Jacobi neurologists isolated chemical markers which made it possible to identify carriers of Tay Sachs disease, a deadly genetic disorder.
Over the course of the next few decades, Jacobi continued to make significant contributions, particularly in the areas of emergency medicine, trauma surgery, burn care, and AIDS research and treatment. It was at Jacobi that the first clinical application of the use of the CO2 laser in burn patient care was made. Jacobi’s Burn Unit was one of the first to use advanced burn care products such as artificial skin. Jacobi founded the first Emergency Medicine (EM) residency in New York City, a program which is also one of the oldest and most respected EM training programs in the country. Jacobi’s Emergency Department (ED) was one of the first in NYC with a full-body CAT scanner. Jacobi was the first hospital in NYC to offer a paramedic training program. Jacobi surgeons were the first to use mechanical staples in the U.S., and the first to use mini-computers to monitor blood circulation and lung function. Its work in AIDS care and research led Jacobi to the establishment of the first hospital-based pediatric AIDS Day Care Program in the U.S.