125 years of caring

White Plains Hospital celebrates the 125th anniversary of its incorporation this year. Courtesy White Plains Hospital.
White Plains Hospital celebrates its past while moving forward, pausing only to mark its 125th anniversary.

Throughout White Plains Hospital’s history, it’s been about heart — caring for its patients, staff and being an active member of the community it serves.

Perhaps that’s why it’s been around for 125 years.

This year, the hospital officially marks the milestone anniversary of its incorporation with a lavish gala set for Sept. 29 at Sleepy Hollow Country Club.

But its ongoing commitment to caring and heart is observed daily.

This month, it’s in a most literal way, with a lecture titled “Your Beating Heart.” White Plains Hospital Medical & Wellness will present Dr. Shalini Bobra speaking on heart disease, its signs and symptoms and how to prevent it, Feb. 6 at The Bristal in Armonk.

This community outreach is the latest in a long and storied history of White Plains Hospital, which has grown from serving some 31 patients in its first year to today having nearly 400,000 patients receiving treatments in its facilities every year.

The health care center, which looks to its new partnership with the Montefiore Health System as the latest chapter in its dramatic journey, is dedicated to leading the way in community health and wellness initiatives.

It all goes back to 1893 when a group of locals — led by Dr. H. Ernest Schmid — joined together to establish a voluntary, nonprofit hospital to serve the community.

Schmid, said to be a most colorful figure, was an old-fashioned horse-and-buggy doctor with the largest medical practice in Westchester — making house calls day and night, helping those without regard to their ability to pay. He would lead the efforts of a dedicated group of 22 women and three men in the establishment of a voluntary, nonprofit hospital for White Plains. Its first home would be a four-room building on Chatterton Hill, overseen by Schmid, who was appointed chief of staff and held that position for 32 years. 

As White Plains grew from a somewhat rural community into the city of today, the hospital has kept up in many ways, including the 1999 opening of state-of-the-art Dickstein Cancer Treatment Center, the first freestanding cancer center in the county; and the 2016 opening of its comprehensive Center for Cancer Care, where more holistic and integrated cancer treatment options joined a breadth of research studies and clinical trials, in collaboration with the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care.

In addition, the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, which opened in 2008, expanded local offerings.

There are also many “firsts” in the hospital’s history, including 1984’s opening of the first fully self-contained ambulatory surgery center in the county; being the first hospital in the county to add a certified midwife to its staff, in 1990; and in 2006, becoming the first community hospital in the Westchester/Fairfield region to use the da Vinci robotic surgical system for minimally
invasive surgery. 

Throughout its history the hospital has relied on its White Plains community for support, from its earliest volunteers donating furnishings for the original facility to its vast volunteer network of today.

It’s all the legacy of an approach Schmid wrote about in the hospital’s 1911 annual report: “We must not look backward and think we can rest. Let us admire the past, be grateful for its teaching, but let us live for the future.”

And today’s staff continues that journey, led by Susan Fox, the president of White Plains Hospital. During a 2013 interview with our sister publication, the Westchester County Business Journal, Fox shared that what happens at the hospital is about much more than the numbers:

“It’s one patient at a time and that’s our moral compass… that one patient.”

Schmid would be proud.

For more on the Feb. 6 lecture, “Your Beating Heart,” visit wphospital.org/hearthealth or call 914-849-7160. To follow the 125th anniversary events of White Plains Hospital, visit wph125.org.

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