Columbus Hospital: A Vital Part of New York's Italian-American History

When Columbus Hospital was founded in 1892 by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, its aim was to provide healthcare and community support to the growing population of Italian immigrants in New York City. Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, who would later become the first American citizen to be canonized as a Catholic saint, was one of the hospital's founders. Dr. George Frederick Shrady Sr., a prominent surgeon, was among the first doctors at Columbus.

From its earliest days, the hospital played a vital role for the Italian immigrant community. It not only provided medical services but also promoted Italian language and culture. Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro, founder of the Sons of Italy in America, helped raise funds to complete Columbus Hospital's building in 1902.

Over the decades, Columbus Hospital went through various mergers and expansions, eventually becoming Cabrini Medical Center in the 1970s. Cabrini pioneered treatment of AIDS patients in the 1980s but faced financial troubles leading to its closure in 2008.

Beyond just healthcare, Italian-language hospitals like Columbus/Cabrini served as important cultural institutions. They provided community gathering places and reinforced Italian identity in a new country.

The establishment and evolution of Columbus Hospital illustrates the needs and resilience of Italian Americans in New York over time. Its rise, mergers, and eventual closure left a void in healthcare options tailored to this community. The hospital's history remains an important part of Italian-American heritage in the city.

Carmelo Cutuli

Saggista

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