I’m still in the east, and while the topic of closed Naval Hospitals in New York State is fresh in mind, it occurs to mention two other facilities in New York State that saw gallant service and are now closed. In addition to Naval Hospital Sampson, subject of my last posting, the Navy operated hospitals in Brooklyn and St Albans in the borough of Queens.
Naval Hospital Brooklyn had its beginning when the Secretary of the Navy purchased 25 acres adjacent to the developing Brooklyn Navy yard in 1825. Construction work on the hospital began in earnest in 1830, and the facility was placed in commission in 1838, making it one of the oldest U S Navy Hospitals, only predated, possibly, by the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth, VA. Relatively quiet in its early years,the hospital came into its own during the civil war. The Navy Surgeon General reported that in 1864, the average hospital census was 229, and that 2,135 patients had been treated during the year. During the Spanish American War, the Brooklyn Naval hospital counted among its staff four female nurses–three were medical students from the recently founded Johns Hopkins Medical School and one a pre-med from MIT–a first in U S naval history. The hospital reached its peak capacity of 1125 patients in World War two, but rapidly decreased in activity, to be decommissioned in 1948. Stabilized and preserved by the Navy, the building nevertheless remains abandoned and derelict to this day.
Naval Hospital St Albans sprung into existence during World War II. Commissioned in 1943, its peak capacity was 4642 patients.After the war, the hospital absorbed the workload of Naval Hospital Brooklyn when that facility was decommissioned. In the mid-1970s, the Navy decommissioned the hospital and turned it over to the Veterans’ Administration. The facility now serves as a VA Community Living Center. Recent news suggests that the VA has plans to demolish the old hospital structures and replace them with modern facilities.