A half century of curing and caring

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1988 was a big year for the hospital. In addition to the opening of the nursing home, the facility marked its 25th anniversary by changing its name. On Oct. 6, it became Franklin Hospital Medical Center. That name stood until 2005 when it simply became Franklin Hospital.

“I had a friend who said Franklin Hospital Medical Center is redundant,” said Gary Walter, a long-time hospital volunteer and former member of the hospital’s Board of Trustees. “I said, ‘I didn’t name it.’”

Merger with larger health system

“We wouldn’t be here without North Shore-LIJ,” said Walter, who joined the hospital board in 1989 and presently represents Franklin on the health system’s Board of Trustees.

In the 1990s, finances were tough for Franklin Hospital. It became an affiliate of North Shore-LIJ, meaning it had access to the health system’s vast resources while still remaining an independent community hospital. On Sept. 9, 2002, the system officially took ownership of Franklin.

Catherine Hottendorf, the executive director of the hospital, said typically once a hospital becomes affiliated with a large system, it is only a matter of time before it is owned outright. But losing that independence is not bad, she said, when a hospital can benefit from such an arrangement. In this financial climate, she explained, it is very hard for a hospital to stand alone.

“It all goes back to money,” said Blakeman, about why the board decided to eventually transfer ownership to the health system. “Everything was costing more. It required an influx of money.”

Blakeman said that for Franklin to maintain a high level of care for its patients, it needed to have state-of-the-art equipment but lacked the necessary funding. North Shore-LIJ had big benefactors, he said, that were hard to find in middle class Valley Stream.

But while financial support from the community was hard to come by, no one from the hospital was going to turn their backs on them. If the hospital had to close, he said, that would have been a tragedy and would have sent people much farther for treatment. “If you have a catastrophe,” he said, “either an accident or a heart attack or a stroke, you have a first-rate facility.”
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