Passaic General Hospital, c1917 and 2016

Recently, I found an old photo of Passaic General Hospital, c1910. It was quite a large hospital, I think, for its time, and it has had multiple additions through the years.

Passaic General Hospital was established in December 1891 as a 3-bed facility, used as a holding place for those who needed to be transferred to the hospital in Paterson. By June 1892, it had expanded to 47 beds.

In 1917, the Lyall Building opened and I think it is this building depicted on this postcard:

PassaicGeneralHospital Postcard
Passaic General Hospital
Source: Personal Postcard Collection

Passaic General Hospital was located at 350 Boulevard. As Passaic continued to grow, mostly due to the factories and mills drawing in thousands of immigrants, the Scoles Building was added in 1926, the Ackerson Maternity House in 1941, the Memorial Building in 1955, the Surgical Building in 1957 and the Reid Building in 1965.

I was born at the Ackerson Maternity House:

Linda’s Birth Announcement

Notice that the announcement specifically identified Ackerson Maternity House at Passaic General Hospital.

We had already moved to Wayne by the time the Reid Building opened in 1965. The hospital was renamed the General Hospital Center of Passaic.

At one time, Passaic had three hospitals – St. Mary’s, which opened in 1895, Beth Israel, which opened in 1927 and Passaic General. Today, there is only one hospital serving Passaic and that is St. Mary’s. However, the story is complicated with a bit of a twist.

In 2000, Atlantic Health Systems bought the hospital. Four short years later, they filed for bankruptcy and Beth Israel Hospital bought the facility, closing its original hospital on Parker Avenue and moving into what had been Passaic General Hospital. The new hospital was named PBI Regional Medical Center (for Passaic-Beth Isreal).

Financial issues continued, in spite of the new owners, and, in 2006, St. Mary’s Hospital became its new owners. St. Mary’s left its old buildings and moved into the PBI Medical Center. The hospital continues today as St. Mary’s.

I was curious as to what Passaic General Hospital looks like today and GoogleEarth was there to help:

Today – St. Mary’s Hospital

At first glance, it doesn’t look much like the c1916 photo – except – take a closer look at the left hand side of the building. The center red brick is obviously a more modern construction style and I think it is likely the 1965 modernization.

Now, look at the far left side of the building. That looks much older and could possibly be the same building as in the vintage postcard photo above.

Again, Google Earth came to the rescue, as I strolled around the block to the back entrance:

Building Design Detail

Here, we can see the much older design details on one portion of the hospital complex. Note where I added the purple arrows.

Now, take another look a the postcard view:

Building Design Detail

Although today’s building has apparently been refaced, it certainly looks like a bit of the original design details are still there. The old windows are also indicative of the original window placements.

Passaic General Hospital of 1917 has undergone several name incarnations and multiple building renovations, but at 99 years young, it is still serving the Passaic community.


20 thoughts on “Passaic General Hospital, c1917 and 2016”

  1. Hi, Linda. I just finished updating WikiPedia’s article on St. Mary’s. Where did you get the detailed history? You have far more details than I was able to research. Some small corrections. St. Mary’s opened in 1897, not 1895. General was in operation as a real medical facility, not just a a receiving room, either the same year or the following year, I was able to retrieve newspaper accounts of St. Mary’s construction, and of an early intensive treatment at General. The current building you identify is clearly quite old, but cannot be the building in the postcard. It is clearly smaller in all dimensions. Also, the original 350 Boulevard would toward the western side of the current, expanded campus, where the modern beige facade appears. I believe that building is fairly new, and the old building was likely demolished to allow construction of te new building. (Construction details make it unlikely that it was merely refaced.)

  2. From 1956-1958 I worked for minimum wage ($ 0.75 per hour) as a nurses aid in the old building, which from my recollection was mainly made up of 6- or 8-bed wards. In all that time I only worked in the fancy new building, the Memorial wing, one weekend and it was a world apart. The patients there seemed younger, healthier and MUCH more demanding.
    My floor nurse was Miss Kovacs and I adored her. The 2 other people I remember were my big HS crush, Neal Grunstra, who worked in Central Supply, and a young doctor from Germany named Dr. von Einem who drove an exotic (for those times) Citroen. I hope that they are all still alive and kicking!!
    In those days a nurses aid dealt with bedpans, pre-washing sheets by hand, removing IV needles and cutting bloody clothing off accident victims in the ER (not a volunteer “Candy Striper” distributing juice and magazines) — and I was so proud when I even got to interpret some German for a few patients!! Nobody asked if I was a certified healthcare interpreter. or even whether I was 18 yet! These days not regarded as best practice!
    Thank you for my little trip down Memory Lane!

    1. Thank you for your remembrances. I have been a nurse’s aide here in Florida and it is still an underpaid and overworked job. While it has its merits in helping those in need, $12.00 an hr. is still poverty wages in 2019, 60 years later. God bless you for all the important work you did to help others.

  3. Thank you for posting the old photos of Passaic General. I remember being in the waiting room while my brother was being born. I recall dark lighting and a doll my parents bought for me for being a good girl waiting by myself. Things were so different back in 1954.

  4. I actually worked there under the foreign exchange nurse program from 1963 to 1965. I am a registerd Nurse from the Philippines, and really had great memories of Passaic. I remember Miss Burns,Nursing supervisor,Mrs. Esposito,the Dorm manager, and Caroline,the Janitor from Poland.

  5. Several family members, including myself had surgery with Dr. DeBell. He was a fabulous surgeon, even by today’s standards, and I will never forget him. He did a plastic surgery procedure on me in 1970 that people still remark about today.

    1. I was a student nurse@ Passaic General Hospital from Sept 1956 u til Oct, 1958-Dr DeBell was the best-did our surgical rotation with him as Head of Surgery-what’s magnificent person he was!

  6. I was born at Passaic General (1953) and at that time our family lived on Lafayette Avenue right behind the hospital. I had aunts that lived on the Boulevard across the street from the front of the hospital. While in high school, I worked as an orderly both in the ICU (head nurse Rose Szwed) and Emergency Room (head nurse Anne DeGraff). Great memories. Our family also knew Dr. DeBell.

  7. Let’s not forget a doctor with a remarkable record for infant deliveries — William Carlos Williams of Rutherford began his practice about 1912. And, many years before, in 1888, another Rutherford doctor, Passaic General Hispital founding physician Dr. Frederick F.C. Demarest.

  8. In 1985, when the new building opened for operations, the original name Passaic General Hospital was changed to “ The General Hospital @ Passaic “. In 2000, it was sold to Atlantic Health System & kept the same name.
    In 2004, Atlantic decided to let go of the hospital and sold it to Passaic Beth Israel ( PBI).
    Atlantic did not file for bankruptcy as stated in this article. PBI sold their old Parker Ave. location and moved into the Boulevard building & renamed it Passaic Beth Israel.
    3 years later 2007, PBI filed & finalized bankruptcy proceedings & sold the hospital to St. Mary’s Hospital.
    From 2007-2014, it operated as St. Mary’s Hospital. The original St. Mary @ Pennington was later sold.
    Faced with financial troubles, St. Mary filed for bankruptcy , but before it could get finalized, it was sold to Prime Healthcare of California in 2014.
    The hospital was renamed St. Mary’s General Hospital. As of this writing, April 13, 2024, the hospital is still operating under same name , same owners, same 350 Boulevard location.
    I worked there as a full-time RN from 1985- 2015 & later 2 days a month per diem from 2016-2020. Great memories especially PGH !
    Thank you Linda Stuffelbean for your extensive write- up. I learned so much. Actually, we have a Closed Group on Facebook of former PGH’ers & any former PGH staff is invited to request membership. It is called “ Passaic General Hospital Virtual Reunion”

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