Bayside’s St. Mary’s Hospital celebrates 150 years serving youth

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Photo by Dean Moses

St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Bayside celebrated its 150th year of caring for New York’s children in need on Wednesday, Sept. 23. 

Staff members stood outside of the hospital, located at 29-01 216th St., joined by healthcare workers and local elected officials such as Senator John Liu, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein and Councilman Paul Vallone. The celebration was followed by an NYPD car parade to mark the special occasion and patients also participated in a livestreamed virtual sing-along with the hospital’s music therapist.

Healthcare workers applaud and cheer at the celebration held outside of the hospital. (Photo by Dean Moses)

As New York City’s only post-acute pediatric care facility, St. Mary’s treats the city’s most critically ill and injured children. The hospital was founded in 1870 when the Sisters of St. Mary established a small, 15-bed hospital in Hell’s Kitchen to provide free medical care for sick children. St. Mary’s now cares for thousands of children each day, both in a 124-bed inpatient facility and in the community through family-centered home care programs. 

Despite extremely limited resources, St. Mary’s provides innovative therapies and rehabilitation programs including art, music and aquatic therapy; a Locomotor Training Program that provides rehabilitation to children with spinal cord injuries; and New York’s only intensive day patient program specializing in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders. St. Mary’s also created New York’s first long-term home care program for children and young adults with disabilities and medically complex conditions — the center for pediatric respiratory care and the nation’s first pediatric palliative care program.

“There is no way that a group of Episcopal nuns in Manhattan in 1870, nor the small group of nuns that I met in 1999, could have conceived of the organization we have become,” said Dr. Edwin Simpser, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Children Hospital. “From a little 15-bed acute care hospital in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, we have become one of the premier pediatric post-acute health systems throughout the country, if not throughout the world.”  

St. Mary’s President and CEO, Dr. Edwin Simpser. (Photo by Dean Moses)

The celebration not only honored the hospital’s long tenure but also their perseverance through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused many of their young patients’ further stress by having visitations from family vastly restricted. 

In order to commemorate the occasion, Liu, Braunstein and Justin Connor, a representative from Congressman Tom Suozzi’s office, presented the hospital with a proclamation. 

“In this most difficult year, we take a moment to celebrate a huge milestone in the storied and inspirational history of St. Mary’s. For 150 years, this hospital has provided care and compassion in the most difficult cases involving serious injury and disability of children,” Liu said. “St. Mary’s has also helped enlighten society about the continuing potential of the patients it has cared for. Much thanks to Dr. Simpser and his entire team for their work of humanity and excellence.”

Additional reporting by Dean Moses.