BROWNS MILLS – Today Deborah Heart and Lung Center is celebrating its 100th anniversary, marking the Hospital’s founding in 1922, and subsequent incorporation the following year.
In recognition of this pivotal milestone, Deborah has received numerous State and federal recognitions, including a letter from New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy; a joint New Jersey Senate/Assembly Resolution signed by Nicholas P. Scutari, President of the Senate and Craig J. Coughlin, Speaker of the General Assembly; a Proclamation from the Burlington County Board of Commissioners; and a collective letter from New Jersey’s Congressional leaders Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Cory Booker, and Congressman Andy Kim.
“We are delighted that Deborah Heart and Lung Center has received these special recognitions from the Governor, the Legislature, the County Commissioners, and our federal Congressional representatives,” said Deborah President and CEO Joseph Chirichella. “One hundred years ago, our founder Dora Moness Shapiro was determined to help those who could not afford the cost of healthcare. Dora was a pioneer in healthcare, recognizing that health disparities create barriers to accessing care. This drive gave rise to a 100-year legacy of caring that has since allowed Deborah to heal 2.3 million patients, reaching patients from every State in the U.S. and from 87 countries throughout the world, without ever billing a patient for care provided at the hospital. These extraordinary statistics prove how one person’s dream to make the world a better place can create a powerful surge of immense good.”
He added: “Deborah’s excellence is built on a combination of innovation in medical advances, clinical research, investment in the future of medicine, embracing new technology, educating physicians and care givers of the future, adhering to the highest ethical and medical standards, and an unwavering commitment to the Deborah team, our community, and our patients. Everyone who has worked here, volunteered at the hospital, or helped fundraise in support of the Deborah mission that allows for equal access for all patients, regardless of ability to pay, has played an important role in Deborah’s history. We are all so proud of the hospital we have helped create, and are proud to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.”
The Deborah Story — 100 Years of Care
Deborah Heart and Lung Center was founded by New York City philanthropist Dora Moness Shapiro in 1922, as a place of healing for tuberculosis (TB) sufferers. Tuberculosis, caused by bacteria and easily spread from person to person, was rampant among New York City’s poor largely because of their living and working conditions, which were often cramped, with no indoor plumbing and improper ventilation. At the time, the only relief from TB was fresh air, a high calorie diet, and relaxation, so Shapiro sought a rural location within driving distance of New York City to provide refuge for those less-fortunate individuals who could otherwise not afford this care. Mrs. Shapiro found her hospital in the “healing airs” of the Pine Barrens, purchasing a small group of cottages where a physician was already treating TB patients in Browns Mills, New Jersey. She then hired the physician, and soon Deborah was treating patients.
To fund her founding principle, “there is no price on life,” Shapiro in 1923 incorporated the Deborah Jewish Consumptive Relief Society, whose fundraising supported Shapiro’s vision that no patient would be turned away from care because they could not pay. One hundred years later, today’s Deborah Hospital Foundation — and its legion of volunteers — continues this tradition.
Transition to Heart and Lung Specialists
By the 1950s, antibiotics were widely used to treat TB. During a 30-year span, Deborah physicians and staff had become experts in treating diseases of the chest. Building on the Foundation that Shapiro built, Deborah transitioned from a tuberculosis sanatorium to a specialty hospital in 1957.
The hospital’s transformation into a world-class specialty heart and lung center was spearheaded by the work of Charles Bailey, MD. Dr. Bailey, a pioneering heart surgeon, performed the first open-heart surgeries in New Jersey on July 28, 1958 on a 36-year-old woman and 3-year-old boy.
In recognition of his revolutionary techniques, Dr. Bailey was featured on the cover of Time magazine in an article titled, “Inside the Heart, Newest Advances in Surgery,” which introduced the world to the work being done by Dr. Bailey at Deborah.
Providing Care to the Community
Over time, the hospital grew and expanded from a single cottage, to a 55-acre medical campus, with partner medical practices located in Atlantic, Burlington, Mercer, and Ocean Counties in New Jersey, expanding access to care and adding services that relate to heart and lung disease, including vascular surgery, diabetes care, sleep medicine, wound care and rehabilitation services.
Additional milestones in the hospital’s expansion included the creation of a clinical research program in 1981, collaboration on the establishment of an emergency room in 2010, and the construction of a 60,000 square foot, 3-story medical office building in 2018 offering services needed in the community, including physical therapy, pharmacy, podiatric medicine, urgent and primary care, obstetrics and gynecology, pain management and a comprehensive ambulatory surgery center scheduled for opening in late 2022.
Training Future Heart Specialists
Named a Top Teaching Hospital by The Leapfrog Group, Deborah has trained talented and highly-skilled Fellows since 1965. The program, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) includes the training of Fellows in general cardiology, interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology, and vascular surgery.
Deborah Fellows spend between one and five years in training (depending on the area of focus) and leave Deborah with hands-on practical experience gained by working in a cardiovascular facility that treats over 70,000 outpatients and 4,000 inpatients; and performs 1,600 surgical and 6,000 non-surgical procedures each year.
The Deborah Fellows are part of the future of our country’s heart care, training with an organization of clinicians committed to quality and recognized by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) as a leader in cardiac outcomes, and the New Jersey Department of Health for having the lowest risk-adjusted mortality rate in the state for cardiac surgery.
The Next 100 Years
In the tradition of founder Dora Moness Shapiro, Deborah has furthered its commitment to patients in the region, having commenced a $108 million capital investment project. Aimed at meeting quality of care, privacy and comfort standards consistent with the offerings of a world-class specialty hospital, the project recently began construction.
This project will result in the addition of three new floors to the main building of the hospital creating new all-private patient rooms, the renovation of existing patient rooms, and the addition of bedside technology and decentralized work stations for medical staff. There are also plans for a new state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab, a new state-of-the-art electrophysiology lab and an updated pharmacy clean-room. Once completed, the investment in new infrastructure and inclusion of forward-looking technology positions Deborah Heart and Lung Center as a leader in care for the next 100 years.