This History of West Islip: Good Samaritan Hospital

This week's column explores the two women who made Good Samaritan Hospital possible

The history of West Islip's only hospital began in France in 1701. Two French women, Sister Marie Louise Trichet and Louis de Montfort met and joined forces to help the poor. Both women dedicated their lives to meet the physical, educational and spiritual needs of anyone in need of help, especially to those less fortunate. The selfless example of those two women inspired other women in France to do the same, and the religious organization the Daughters of Wisdom (DW) was formed.

By 1904, France began rejecting religious organizations for more secular groups, so the DW fled to America, arriving first in Maine and then in Port Jefferson, NY. In 1907, more than two dozen disabled homeless children from Brooklyn were sent to the DW in Port Jefferson which led to the establishment of the Brooklyn Home for Handicapped Children a year later. In 1910, a building large enough to accommodate 250 children was built which eventually dedicated as St. Charles Hospital.

Over in West Islip during the turn of the century, the 60 acres of land where Good Samaritan Hospital would eventually be built belonged to the Vanderveer family. The Vanderveer's estate, which overlooked the Great South Bay, was described as "a lovely old house with a big porch" by longtime West Islip resident Ann Gilmore in an interview she did with the a West Islip librarian in 1982. John Vanderveer was the head of the prosperous family and he enjoyed all that the south shore had to offer, especially sailing. He owned a 54- foot sloop yacht named Commodore and spent a lot of his free time on the water.

Due to a population surge in and around West Islip in the 1950's, the DW saw the need for another medical facility, but this time they decided it should be a general hospital. The Vanderveer Estate was available, so that was the location chosen by the DW. In 1958 the name of hospital was selected (due to the fact that it was a not-for-profit community hospital), and on May 18, 1959 Good Samaritan Hospital opened its doors in its present location at 1000 Montauk Highway.

As a member of the Catholic Health Services of Long Island, the hospital continues the mission of the DW by its commitment to those in need.  When it first opened, the hospital had 175 beds and Mother Marie Regina served as its first administrator. She was succeeded by Edward J. Peterson in 1967. During his 15 year tenure, the hospital expanded to accommodate 437 beds with the additions of the Baxter Pavilion in 1970, two new floors to the hospital in 1973 and a five story addition which was completed in 1983.

Peterson died in March 2009 at the age of 82, two months before the hospital celebrated its 50th anniversary. That same year the hospital became affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

This week's trivia question: What was the name of the family who lived next to the Vanderveers on the property that is now home to St. John's  Baptist Diocesan  High School?  The answer in next week's column.

The answer to last week's trivia question is: William Dzus was nicknamed the Ukranian Henry Ford.



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