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1977 – 2007, a catalyst for change celebrates three decades of revitalization

August 1, 2007, Brooklyn, NY…As in the book and new television series, Ladies and Gentleman the Bronx is Burning, N.Y.C. was in near turmoil in 1977, however, a small hospital was about to change its Brooklyn community forever. While a power outage crippled the city and Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin battled on the field, an energized group of people would draw the attention of government and private sector investors to secure the purchase of a dormant waterfront factory while galvanizing community groups into making a difference.

In a bold move in July 1977, Lutheran Medical Center would relocate to the abandoned factory shell left by the American Machine and Foundry, one of many waterfront-based businesses to fall victim to changing times. LMC's forward and progressive thinking leaders hoped to restore confidence in a forgotten area and provide the impetus for comprehensive rehabilitation and neighborhood renewal. The past three decades prove they were right, and their vision is a reality. As the first ever factory to medical center conversion, LMC opened the doors of a new ultramodern 500+-bed hospital at 150 55th Street, an area considered one of Brooklyn's most challenged at the time.

In the summer of 1977 Lutheran's uniquely redefined definition of a hospital and a community's health would reach its tipping point. LMC rallied leaders behind a new Sunset Park redevelopment committee channeling federal, state, city and private funds to secure subsidized housing for the elderly and poor, create the first hospital-run neighborhood health centers, create the country's only AMA approved family practice residency program (program founder, Dr. Eugene Fanta, would be recognized as the country's "Family Doctor of the Year" by President Jimmy Carter in 1980), provide job training, distribute government surplus food, provide legal services and much more.

Today, that commitment and devotion to a community's overall "health" remains as strong as ever. The new Lutheran HealthCare remains a leader in community-based health with one the of the country's largest federally qualified health center systems with 600,000 visits a year, hundreds of subsidized housing units for seniors, a family support center that provides free job training, English classes, reading and Even Start programs. The medical center continues to redefine the "community hospital" concept with the area's only Level I Trauma Center, a state designated regional stroke center, a bariatric surgical institute, and more. And a new group of burgeoning businesses have sprung up around the hospital. From a revitalized trucking and shipping industry to local pharmacy's and bodega's, the community has been reborn.

In 1969, when plans for the hospital's brave transition were in their infancy stages, Senator Jacob Javits delivered the following message before the United States Senate: "In less than a year, what began as a new concept of responsibility of a local hospital to its neighborhood has expanded into a community wide movement that may well mark the turning point in the history of an entire urban area. The willingness of one institution to come forward as an aggressive advocate for its neighborhood, as the rallying point for a unified community effort and as a bridge between the people, their government and private economic interests, can serve as an experimental model for future programs of renewal un urban area throughout America."

Most recently, in 2006, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona referred to Lutheran as "Brooklyn's hidden gem" and characterized Lutheran's health center model as "one that should be replicated nationally."

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