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100 Years of Care
For the past century, Deborah Heart and Lung Center has been a medical pioneer and a difference-maker in South Jersey and beyond.

by Matt Cosentino

For the past century, Deborah Heart and Lung Center has been a medical pioneer and a difference-maker in South Jersey and beyond.

Deborah Heart and Lung Center was founded by New York City philanthropist Dora Moness Shapiro in 1922 to treat tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, caused by bacteria and easily spread from person to person, was rampant among New York City’s poor largely because of their living conditions, which were often cramped, with no indoor plumbing and improper ventilation. 

At the time, it was thought that the only relief from tuberculosis was fresh air, a high-calorie diet and relaxation, so Shapiro sought a rural location within driving distance from New York City to provide refuge for those less-fortunate. She found her hospital in the healing airs of the Pine Barrens, purchasing a small cottage in Browns Mills in South Jersey. She then hired a physician and soon Deborah was treating patients.

To fund her mission, Shapiro formed the Deborah Jewish Consumptive Relief Society, a fundraising group whose mission was “there is no price on life.” Shapiro’s vision was that no patient would be turned away from care because they could not pay. Today’s Deborah Hospital Foundation, and its legion of volunteers, continues in this tradition 100 years later.

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, widely referred to as a pioneer, was the first in New Jersey in July of 1958 to perform open-heart surgery 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 and Ocean counties, 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 include 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, three-story Medical Office Building in 2018, which houses providers 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 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 the program with hands-on practical experience gained by working in a cardiovascular facility that treats 70,000 outpatients, 4,000 inpatients, 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 NJ 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 embarked on a new commitment to the patients in the region, having committed to a $100 million capital investment project. Aimed at improving the quality of care, privacy and comfort, consistent with the offerings of a world-class specialty hospital, the project recently broke ground.

This project will result in the addition of three new floors to the main building of the hospital, the renovation of patient rooms, bedside technology and decentralized work stations for medical staff. There are also plans for a new cardiac catheterization lab, new electrophysiology lab and a pharmacy clean-room. Once completed, Deborah’s investment in new infrastructure, with state-of-the art technology, positions Deborah Heart and Lung Center to be a leader in care for the next 100 years.

Deborah Heart and Lung Center

200 Trenton Road | Browns Mills

(609) 293-2785