A century ago, a vision for health care in our community began to develop. In the year of 1914, the only
hospital facilities available for patients in the West Palm Beach area were located in a five-room cottage on Third Street near the F.E.C. Railroad tracks.
Realizing that a problem existed, a group was organized in
1917 as the Good Samaritan Hospital Association with the idea of planning the construction of a new hospital to expand upon the overcrowded emergency hospital.
Good Samaritan opened on May 19, 1920, with four physicians and men’s and women’s wards separated by curtains.
The Cluett Family of Palm Beach suggested that the hospital be named Good Samaritan. Construction work on the 35-bed hospital designed by architect, Marion Sims Wyeth began in 1919. The first hospital ball was held at the Royal Poinciana Hotel in 1919, raising $8,000.
Good Samaritan opened on May 19, 1920, with four physicians and men’s and women’s wards separated by curtains. In 1920, Palm Beaches’ biggest social event, Washington’s Birthday Ball, benefited Good Sam with 4,000 in attendance.
In 1921 the Delphine Dodge Memorial Hall was added as an isolation ward. The third addition including the then new obstetrical department was built in 1925, increasing the bed capacity to 95. In 1926, a complete x-ray department was added. In 1926, Palm Beachers raised more than $50,000 with the largest donations amounting to $2,500 each.
During the great depression, Good Sam’s expansion slowed and patients continued to pay just $7.07 a day.
The Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing was organized in 1926 by Miss Kathryn R. Gutwald, the Director of Nurses, who served in that capacity for twelve years. There were twelve students in the first class.
Entering the 1930s, West Palm Beach was still in a rebuilding phase following a deadly hurricane that swept the coastline in 1928. From 1929 to 1930, the Depression dropped West Palm Beach’s total property value by more than half. By 1935 property value was down to a little more than its pre-boom 1920 value. West Palm Beach would come back, but it would take a world war to do it.
However, there still was some progress in the city during the 1930s. Palm Beach Junior College (today’s Palm Beach Community College) became Florida’s first junior college when it opened in 1933. The new county airport, Morrison Field (present day Palm Beach International Airport), was dedicated in December 1936. And the hospital continued its gradual expansion by increasing its bed capacity to 109 in 1939 and to 122 in 1941.
During World War II, Palm Beacher Edward F. Swenson, then-president of the hospital’s board of governors, proposed the idea to have a hospital auxiliary. The auxiliary began in 1945. As the auxiliary grew, Mrs. Robert D. Huntington and Eleanor Sims-Wyeth became auxiliary presidents. The groups early projects included a gift shop, holiday decorations, a book cart service, and a nurses’ scholarship fund. In 1947, Palm Beacher Ernest G. Howes was elected president of the board of governors. Under Howes leadership, the governing board embarked on a long-term $5 million facility expansion to increase the bed capacity to 250. During the expansion project, a modern laundry room was installed and new facilities were added for x-ray, EKG and central supply. Additionally, the 4th floor of the North wing was completed, adding 33 beds and an operating room facility as well as a pediatric unit.
By 1954, Good Sam was admitting 6,000 plus patients annually and 6,200-plus emergency room patients. The staff included about 120 doctors, 10 dentists and 300 other employees. During the 20 years from 1948 to 1968 an entirely new building and parking facilities was constructed east of the old hospital. The Shaughnessy-Dillman wing was remodeled in 1952 adding 20 additional beds. In 1964 the Anna Dodge maternity suite became a reality increasing bed capacity to 150.
The 60’s saw the addition of the five-story south wing, which added many patient rooms and a new intensive care unit, named after Palm Beach supporter Peter Frelinghuysen. Also completed were the Mae Rovensky Nurses Residence, the Richard S. Beinecke Memorial Library and the 278-seat William Phillips Auditorium. The medical library was dedicated in 1968.
In 1970, a 58- bed addition opened, serving surgical patients. Completed in 1979, the $13 million Westward Expansion Project brought capacity to 326 beds. The project added 114,515 square feet of space bringing the total area under the same roof to over twelve and a half acres. Highlights of the expansion include expanding the emergency room, laboratory, respiratory area, labor and delivery unit, and pathology space. Additionally, the nursery and surgical intensive care units were remodeled and three new operating suites were added.
In 1982, Good Sam broke ground on a 5-story nursing residence and radiation therapy unit. Two years later, Good Sam began a $7 million expansion. In 1988, the nine-story medical building was dedicated in honor of Victor W. Farris. His wife, Celia Lipton-Farris, pledged $2 million toward the building. Other additions in the 80s included a Metabolic Research and Treatment Institute, and a new nursing-unit pavilion, named after Walter R. Newbern, a Palm Beach physician and surgeon on the hospital’s staff from 1948 to 1982.
In 1991, when Good Samaritan Hospital became Good Samaritan Medical Center, expansion included opening a new outpatient center, a satellite medical center in Royal Palm Beach and a six-bed coronary care unit. A master expansion plan outlined $33 million in projects including a new operating room and operating suites. In 1993, the hospital opened a special deliveries maternity unit, named after Helen K. Perssom, a retired nurse who donated $1 million to Good Samaritan. Also in 1993, Good Samaritan Cancer Center Institute opened, associated with Duke University.
In 1994, Good Samaritan and St. Mary’s merged under the same parent company, Intracoastal Health Systems. By the late 1990’s new facilities were opened including: The Esther B. O’Keeffe Pavilion, the Larry Fisher Emergency Center, the Lawrence E. Barreca Atrium, the Robert L. and Alice W. Rooke Surgery Center, the Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Institute, the Norma and Miles Zission Comprehensive Breast Center, the Leo and Anne Albert Infusion Center, and the Ruth C. Heede Gamma Knife Center, among others. In 1994, Good Sam became a nationally accredited cancer center by the Commission on Cancer, a quality program of the American College of Surgeons.
The 2000’s brought more growth to Good Samaritan Medical Center. In 2007, Good Samaritan Medical Center expanded its services to include elective and emergent angioplasty and opened the Cardiovascular Institute. The following year, the hospital was designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the State of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration. In 2009, Good Samaritan Medical Center introduced minimally invasive robotic surgical techniques to the community with the DaVinci Si Robot.
The Palms Medical Detoxification opened in 2010, offering a discreet and medically supervised detoxification program to those suffering drug and alcohol abuse. In the same year, Good Samaritan Medical Center acquired five Midtown Imaging Centers in Palm Beach County, offering convenient outpatient imaging services. In 2013, the hospital introduced bariatric surgery and became a Surgical Weight Loss Center of Excellence. The hospital also achieved Chest Pain Center accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.
2014 brought additional treatment options to patients including, the new EP lab for patients with heart rhythm disorders, and the Digestive Disease Institute offering diagnosis and treatment options for patients with digestive system disorders.
In 2016 the Cancer Genetics Program started, and then in 2017 Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), a treatment for cancer in which the radiation is delivered directly to a small area of the body, all at once, was started and offered to the community.
In 2017, Good Sam achieved a three-year full accreditation designation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program administered by the American College of Surgeons. Accreditation by the NAPBC is only given to those centers that have voluntarily committed to provide the highest level of quality breast care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance.
In 2018, the Newbern unit was refurbished and reopened. The Victor Farris Outpatient imaging center also re-opened and Good Sam became the first hospital in PBC to offer high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for patients with prostate cancer. We also received re-accreditation by the COC during 2018.
2019 was an exciting year, as we acquired a 3rd DaVinci Robot, growing our program to the 2nd busiest robotic program in Palm Beach County. The Emergency Center located on Okeechobee and Haverhill road opened, offering full-service emergency services to the western communities. In partnership with a local coffee shop, Subculture, Good Sam opened the Coffee Lab in the hospital’s atrium. Good Sam’s outpatient surgery center located in the Victor Farris Medical Office Building re-opened, offering state-of-the-art surgical suites, private recovery rooms and a 5-bay infusion room.
We have some very exciting developments for healthcare treatment options and capital expansion in the near future. From the northeast, the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) has built an outpatient center that has partnered with Good Samaritan Medical Center to provide increased orthopedic surgical and research capabilities for the area. We have aligned ourselves with Mount Sinai Medical Center to further enhance our oncology and cardiac services.
In addition to general medical services, Good Samaritan offers a range of specialty services, including comprehensive cancer services, comprehensive breast center, orthopedics, bariatrics, obstetrics, neurosurgery, robotic surgery and cardiovascular medicine. For the discerning patient, the hospital offers all-private, upscale units that combine quality medical care with personal comfort.
As we pause to reflect on all that we’ve seen we will always remember that each brick carries meaning, memories and history, as we build towards tomorrow. And that is why this is our promise to you. Our promise for progress. To shape moments, days, years, decades, and centuries. Because we have been here. We are here. And we will always be here for you.
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