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Calvary Hospital celebrates a century in the Bronx

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A local hospital is celebrating 100 years in the Bronx.

Calvary Hospital, an institution that has called the Bronx its home since 1915, is celebrating a century of growth, operation, and most importantly, patient care in the borough.

Calvary’s original roots stem back earlier than 1915, when in 1842, young widow Madame Garnier founded lay organization Women of Calvary in France and opened a hospital for cancer patients with other widows.

In 1899, the Women of Calvary was introduced to New York City.

After initially caring for patients in their own homes, the Women of Calvary began treating patients in two private houses on Perry Street in Manhattan.

After a brief move to an abandoned school building, Calvary moved to their first Bronx location, on Featherbed Lane and Macombs Road, as the House of Calvary in 1915.

Since Calvary’s move to the Bronx, the changes have been just as monumental, if not more so.

In 1968, Calvary was certified by New York State an acute care specialty hospital and officially became Calvary Hospital.

In 1978, Calvary moved to its current location at 1740 Eastchester Road, after six decades in the west Bronx, which offers in-patient care for 200 patients.

In 1985, Calvary opened the Palliative Care Institution, which has trained thousands of health care professionals and medical students from over 30 countries worldwide.

Bereavement support for children and teens was started in 1997 and now includes groups Precious Moments, ages 6-11, Teen Groups, ages 12-17 as well as Calvary’s Camp Compass, a camp for youth and adolescents who have lost family members and/or loved ones - at no charge.

Even the past 15 years has seen numerous improvements for Calvary, which in 2001, opened a 25-bed Brooklyn Satellite at Lutheran Medical Center.

In 2004, Calvary opened the Family Care Center and the Center for Curative and Palliative Wound Care, which greatly benefits wounded patients with diabetes.

In addition, Calvary began offering short-term inpatient care at the Dawn Greene Hospice in Manhattan, a 10-bed unit at the Mary Manning Walsh Home - once again extending their services beyond the borders of the Bronx.

Along with these additions, Calvary, which operates in connection with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, also provides Calvary@Home, which provides home care and hospice for patients, the Patient Activity Center for holiday gatherings and parties as well as Psychotherapy group meetings.

The hospital conforms to the religious beliefs of the patient and the patient’s family during the time period that they are admitted.

“Calvary Hospital has a tremendous reputation for patient care primarily because we admit patients as well as their families” said Frank Calamari, who has been president of Calvary Hospital for 30 years. “However, this mission wouldn’t be able to continue without funding and fundraising events, which is the reason why we are able to provide care not only in the Bronx, but extensive care to (NYC) and the greater New York area.”

“I didn’t intend to stay at Calvary for a very long time,” said Dr. Michael Brescia, executive medical director and co-founder of Calvary Hospital, who began his tenure by covering for friend Dr. James Cimino for a weekend and is still with Calvary 50 years later.

“However, once I started helping patients I couldn’t stop and as a result, I couldn’t leave. Our hospital has loved, and continues to love patients by being present in a physical and psychological sense and show them that we will never abandon them,” he added.

“I had heard a little bit about Calvary initially, but after they cared for my husband and I, it was clear that Calvary was the perfect choice,” said Terri Levine, whose husband passed away in 2013 after being diagnosed with cancer. “He was able to celebrate his final birthday, his final holidays and, eventually, he was able to die with dignity. Throughout the whole process, and even after his passing, Calvary has been there to provide me with support and I will always thank them for that.”

“No question - I would definitely use Calvary again,” said Deborah Degregorio, both of whom’s parents were cared for in their homes with Calvary@Home. “I was the care taker for my mom for seven years while working full time and my father was diagnosed with multiple cancers during the same time, so it was very difficult. Calvary’s services to my family and I made the process very doable. If I can help somebody else who was in my situation, I will - by recommending Calvary to care for them or their loved ones.”

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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