The SUMMIT PARK SANATORIUM was erected in 1918 after a popular vote for its construction was taken by the citizens of Rockland County, and in accordance with Section 45 of the County Law, which provided that counties with a population of 35,000 or more must establish and maintain a county hospital for the care and treatment of persons suffering from tuberculosis. This building was located on the grounds where Building L is located today.
The sanatorium, a two-story frame structure with open, unheated porches, was equipped to accommodate forty-six patients, although within a few years the hospital maintained a daily average of fifty-five patients. The first patient was admitted on October 14, 1919.
Steady growth of the Institution necessitated provisions for a nurses' home, employees' quarters, Recreational Hall and Occupational Therapy Shop, and a Superintendent's residence. To meet those needs, two additional buildings were constructed in 1925.
The progress made in the treatment of tuberculosis in the early 20th century was unparalleled. Treatment had previously consisted of climatic changes and fresh air with little regard to rest or the comfort of the patient. With the extensive use of surgery in the treatment of tuberculosis, the Summit Park Sanatorium was considered a modern hospital, and was equipped with X-rays, clinical laboratories, operating room facilities, and comfortably heated rooms.
By the early 1930's, the building required significant reconstruction, but after careful study, this was found impossible. Furthermore, the State no longer approved of extensive remodeling of any hospital building whose construction was known to be a fire hazard.
In the Fall of 1935, Rockland County obtained an outright grant of $204,952.00 from the Federal Government which was matched by $250,000.00 by the County, or a total appropriation of $454,952.00 for construction, sewerage, and complete equipment for a "new" Summit Park.
Ground was broken on March 5, 1936 and construction began in May 1936. The work progressed rapidly, and the building was occupied on May 26, 1937.
The new Summit Park Sanatorium was considered one of the finest institutions in the country. It was fireproof, tastefully furnished, and completely equipped with all the latest therapeutic facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary diseases. It was an institution of which the residents of Rockland County could be justly proud.
Dr. Robert L. Yeager was named Superintendent and Medical Director of Summit Park Sanatorium in 1942 and during his tenure was a leading force in the growth of what is now known as The Dr. Robert L. Yeager Health Center. In the mid-1960's, Dr. Yeager took the lead along with two other county agencies, Department of Health and Department of Mental Health, in a monumental project that would bring together the three agencies to one health complex. He was named Director of the Department of Health and Hospitals in 1974.
In October of 1977, Summit Park Hospital along with the Rockland County Infirmary nursing home in Building C, relocated to Building A of the 110-acre campus. The Summit Park Sanatorium (Building L), was converted to office space and currently houses the Department of Social Services.
Dr. Yeager retired in 1980 after 42 years of unparalleled service to the county. In 1987, the Rockland County Health Center was officially changed to The Dr. Robert L. Yeager Health Center. Dr. Yeager was known to be "tough minded" but soft spoken and kept a low profile. He opposed having the complex named after him and at the dedication ceremony is quoted as saying the following, "In principle, that one person should be honored above so many others is embarrassing."
Summit Park Hospital was named an LTACH (long-term acute care hospital) in the 1990's, and today it is the only Long Term Acute Care Hospital in Rockland, Orange and Westchester Counties.
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