Lenox Hill Hospital

Lenox Hill Hospital, on Manhattan's Upper East Side in New York City, is a 652-bed, acute care hospital and a major teaching affiliate of New York University Medical Center. Founded in 1857 as the German Dispensary, today's 10-building Lenox Hill Hospital complex has occupied its present site since 1905, when it was known as the German Hospital. Lenox Hill Hospital is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, on a city block bounded on the north and south by 77th and 76th Streets, and on the west and east by Park and Lexington Avenues. It is two blocks east of Central Park, is convenient to New York City's public transportation system and within easy walking distance of many cultural attractions. The subway station on the same block bears the Hospital's name.

In 2007, the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital (MEETH) was incorporated into Lenox Hill Hospital. Current President/CEO is Gladys George.


On January 19, 1857, the German Dispensary, later renamed Lenox Hill Hospital, was founded. On May 28, the facility opened to the public at 132 Canal Street. In 1862, the German Dispensary moved to larger quarters at 8 East Third Street to accommodate the 10,000 patients it treated each year. The hospital continued to grow, and in 1884 moved to 137 Second Avenue, at East 8th Street. The new three-story building was a gift of Anna and Oswald Ottendorfer, who ran the German newspaper New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung. By 1887, the German Hospital and Dispensary was treating 28,000 patients annually, mostly from the local Little Germany neighborhood around First and Second Avenues below 14th Street.

In 1887, the hospital opened its nurses' training school with four young German American women forming the first class. Until then, nursing attendants and charge nurses had been brought over from Germany.

In 1905, the hospital moved to the Upper East Side, at Fourth Avenue (Park Avenue) and 77th Street, at the same time that Manhattan's German community was increasingly abandoning Little Germany for the Yorkville section of the Upper East Side, within walking distance of the new hospital. The German Hospital had been leasing the mostly unused 77th Street site since 1865, when it was a swampy, goat-ridden tract of land, at an annual rent of $1. New York City deeded the square block to the hospital for $5000 in 1907.

In July 1918, the German Hospital was renamed Lenox Hill Hospital, tying it to the Lenox Hill section of the Upper East Side), in an effort to distance the institution from America's enemy in World War I. A movement in 1925 to restore the hospital to its former name, to appeal to potential donors of German descent, was eventually rejected by the board of trustees. It was said at the time that about 95 percent of the doctors, nurses and other employees of the hospital spoke German.

In February 1919, the hospital rejected a proposed merger with Columbia University.

In 1943, the hospital sent its medical unit to England to maintain station hospitals for military personnel. Throughout the remainder of World War II, Lenox Hill Hospital staff members serve in all war theaters, including combat forces in the European theater of operations after D-day to the present day War in Iraq.

A few years earlier, in December 1931, renowned future wartime leader, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, was treated at Lenox Hill Hospital for about nine days for serious injuries suffered when he was hit by a car while crossing Fifth Avenue (at 76th Street). On Lenox Hill Hospital’s 100th anniversary, he wrote,”I well remember the admirable care and attention I received…”

The 1940 Republican presidential nominee Wendell Willkie died at Lenox Hill Hospital in 1944, as did alleged Soviet spy Alger Hiss (in 1996), political journalist Theodore H. White (1986), sports journalist Dick Schaap (2001), television host Jack Barry (1984), comedian Nipsey Russell (2005), television host Ed Sullivan (1974), sports announcer Marty Glickman (2001), cosmetics pioneer Elizabeth Arden (1966), famed lawyer Simon Rifkind (1995), President Franklin D. Roosevelt's adviser and speechwriter Samuel Rosenman (1973), U.S. Communist Party perennial presidential candidate Gus Hall (2000), star Wall Street banker Jeffrey Beck (1995), actress Myrna Loy (1993), writer Malachi Martin (1999), novelist Olivia Goldsmith (2004), NBC legal analyst Jay Monahan (1998), marathon runner Ryan Shay (2007), British actress Natasha Richardson (2009), writer Louis Auchincloss (2010) and restaurateur Elaine Kaufman (2010).

Comedian Joan Rivers gave birth to her daughter Melissa at the hospital in 1968, and actress Sarah Jessica Parker gave birth to her son James there in 2002.

Other well-known people treated at the hospital include actress Elizabeth Taylor, singer Barry Manilow, singer Karen Carpenter, New York Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd following his spinal cord injury, the former General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, television journalist Mike Wallace, famed New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor, conductor James Levine, and Hollywood actor James Cagney.

Several years earlier, in 1998, a jury awarded $49 million in an obstetrics case against Lenox Hill Hospital, which was one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in New York City at that time.

Contributions to modern medicine

The hospital became a leading innovator in medical care, developing and implementing many standards and practices that would later become indispensable components of modern medicine. In 1897, the hospital installed one of the first X-ray machines in America. Ten years later, the hospital established the first physical therapy department in the country. In response to what was becoming a growing public health threat, Lenox Hill Hospital was the first general hospital in the United States to open a tuberculosis division. In 1973, the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma becomes the first hospital-based center in the nation for the study of sports medicine.

Early on, Lenox Hill Hospital established itself as one of the nation’s leading hospitals for cardiac care. In 1938, the first angiocardiograph in the country was performed at Lenox Hill Hospital, and in 1955 the hospital became one of the first in New York City to open a cardiac catheterization laboratory. Ten years later, the hospital opened the first cardiac care unit in the metropolitan New York area. In 1978 the first coronary angioplasties in the country were performed at Lenox Hill Hospital and at St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco. In 1994, Lenox Hill Hospital surgeons pioneered minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass surgery and in 2000, Lenox Hill Hospital was the first in the United States to perform endoscopic radial artery harvesting. In 2003, the first drug coated stent approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was implanted at Lenox Hill Hospital. Lenox Hill is also one of the first hospitals in the nation to acquire a state-of-the-art robotic cardiac system, which allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive heart bypass surgery.

In 2000, Lenox Hill Hospital became the sponsor of Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, an internationally renowned specialty hospital.

Continuing its tradition of care during times of crisis, Lenox Hill Hospital assembled a disaster team to care for casualties of the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center in 2001. Emergency crews were sent to Ground Zero and supply runs to the area were conducted to aid the rescue workers. The hospital set up a free walk-in Crisis Counseling Center, staffed by the hospital’s psychiatrists and therapists and the blood donor center was expanded to accommodate the thousands of people who came to the hospital to give blood.

In 2007, Lenox Hill Hospital celebrated its 150th anniversary, and expanded its dedication to the New York City community by opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art Emergency Department, the Anne and Isidore Falk Center for Emergency Care at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Medical milestones and pioneers

Many important milestones in the advancement of medical knowledge have been made at Lenox Hill Hospital, including:

  • Introduction of antiseptic methods in obstetrics
  • Installation of one of the first X-ray machines in America in 1897
  • First tuberculosis pavilion in any American hospital
  • First hemophilia center
  • Introduction of the technique for bone marrow examination in 1931
  • Development of the specialty of thoracic surgery
  • First successful esophagectomy for carcinoma
  • First surgical treatment of undescended testicles
  • First angiocardiogram in the United States
  • First coronary angioplasty in the United States
  • Implantation of the first drug-eluting stent in the United States

Many medical pioneers were early members of Lenox Hill Hospital's attending staff. Among them were:

  • Henry Jacques Garrigues, who introduced antiseptic obstetrics to North America
  • Willy Meyer, M.D. - performed some of the earliest pulmonary surgery in America
  • Abraham Jacobi, M.D. - the father of American pediatrics
  • Leo Buerger, M.D. - described the disease that bears his name
  • Carl Eggers, M.D., and Dewitt Stetten, M.D. - founding members of the American College of Surgeons
  • Franz Torek, M.D. - performed the first successful esophagectomy for carcinoma and also developed the surgical treatment of undescended testicles
  • William H. Stewart, M.D. - a former director of radiology, performed the first angiocardiogram in the United States in 1938.
  • Simon Stertzer, M.D. of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and Richard K. Myler, M.D. of St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco performed the first coronary angioplasties in the United States on the same day, March 1, 1978

Lenox Hill Hospital today provides a wide range of inpatient medical/surgical, obstetric, pediatric and psychiatric services. The hospital has both primary care and specialty outpatient clinics, an ambulance service and an emergency department. Special programs and services include interventional cardiology and a cardiovascular surgery program that are among the busiest and most highly regarded in the region; a New York State-designated AIDS center program; a high-risk neonatal care service; an active obstetric service; a growing ambulatory surgery program; a growing renal dialysis service; and a community health education and outreach program. Other licensed services include cystoscopy, diagnostic radiology services including CT and MRI scanning, nuclear medicine, and therapeutic radiology. Licensed outpatient services include primary care medicine, pediatrics, prenatal care and family planning, physical therapy, audiology, speech/language pathology, and social work. The hospital is licensed to provide both inpatient and outpatient adult mental health services. Its active ambulance service has as its primary territory 59th Street to 96th Street, from Central Park to the East River. Approximately 325,000 people a year receive care at Lenox Hill Hospital.

In 2007, Lenox Hill Hospital was ranked among the nation's top 50 hospitals in Heart and Heart Surgery (#15), Orthopedics (#26) and Neurology & Neurosurgery (#45) according to U.S. News and World Report's annual survey on America's Best Hospitals.

On May 19, 2010, Lenox Hill announced that an agreement had been finalized for Lenox Hill Hospital to join the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

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