Deborah Heart and Lung Center was founded in 1922 and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. During that time, the Center has transformed from its founding as a tuberculosis sanitarium into a world-class hospital specializing in heart, lung and vascular care.
Deborah Heart and Lung Center is New Jersey’s only specialty cardiac hospital. An 89-bed teaching hospital, Deborah specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, research and treatment of heart, lung and vascular diseases. Located in a rural area in New Jersey, Deborah has partnered with other medical providers to build a regional center of excellence, providing a variety of other medical services on its campus and broadening access to care for residents in the area. Deborah Heart and Lung Center offers a full continuum of general cardiology services, an advanced heart failure program, bariatric surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, congestive heart failure care, electrophysiology procedures, endocrinology and diabetes services, interventional cardiology procedures, pulmonary medicine, a post-COVID recovery program, sleep medicine, thoracic and vascular surgery services, wound care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and a research department involved in numerous clinical research studies.
The original Deborah Jewish Consumptive Relief Society was funded by philanthropist Dora Moness Shapiro, who first established the hospital as a tuberculosis (TB) sanitarium in 1922. Nestled in the heart of Pine Barrens, Shapiro took ownership of a cottage and soon had her first patients, who were able to take advantage of fresh air and rest, which at the time was the only relief from TB. Dr. Henry Barenblatt, a respected TB specialist, gave up his practice in Philadelphia, PA, to become Deborah’s first resident physician. In 1931, Shapiro laid the cornerstone for a new Main Building, which replaced the wooden cottages of the original campus, and in 1945 the construction was fully completed.
Throughout the 1940s, Deborah’s facilities and services continued to grow to meet the ever-changing needs of patients. With the introduction of antibiotics, the hospital transitioned from a tuberculosis sanatarium to Deborah Hospital and began treating other chest diseases. In 1958, Dr. Charles Bailey performed two history-making first-of-its-kind heart surgeries in New Jersey on three-year-old Bill DiMartino and 36 year-old Dora Hansen, ushering in a new era of cardiac care.
This began a long history of “firsts” at Deborah, from cardiac catheterization, pacemakers and ICDs, to left-ventricular assist devices. Throughout, Deborah’s campus continued to grow to meet the needs of its expanding service offerings and patient volume. In 1977, Deborah officials broke ground on a $14 million expansion project which would double the size of what by then was known as Deborah Heart and Lung Center. In 2022, Deborah started a $108 million capital investment project aimed at improving the quality of care, the privacy and comfort of patients, and investing in new infrastructure and technology to position Deborah as a leader for the next 100 years of cardiac care.
Who We Serve
Deborah Heart and Lung Center is located in Browns Mills, New Jersey, but its impact reaches much further. Throughout its history, Deborah has healed more than 2.3 million patients from every state in the country, and 87 countries throughout the world. In 2021, Deborah treated patients from every county in New Jersey as well as patients from 29 other U.S. states and Puerto Rico.
The Deborah Heart and Lung Center was founded on the principle that “there is no price on life.” Dora Moness Shapiro’s mission carries on today, and in 100 years, Deborah can proudly say that no patient has ever received a bill from the Hospital. The Deborah Hospital Foundation, established in the 1970s, supplies roughly $4 million a year to close the gap.
“We are using the incredible buy-in process we have in place to address the burnout facing our healthcare community, and the post- traumatic stress from working during this unprecedented medical emergency.”
Another way in which the Deborah Heart and Lung Center is unique is the fact that since its founding in 1922, it has been a very physician-centric organization, always fully employing staff physicians. This was a unique model years ago, when most physicians were in private practice. This employment model has lent our physicians a strong voice in our operations, in a shared governance model. With that kind of culture, it’s easier to sit everybody down at the table during difficult times, whether it be an economic downturn like we saw in 2008, or after 9/11 when many first responders sought care at the hospital with serious respiratory problems, or post-Superstorm Sandy, when we needed to mobilize to fight the respiratory effects from the flood clean-up, or now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are using the incredible buy-in process we have in place to address the burnout facing our healthcare community, and the post- traumatic stress from working during this unprecedented medical emergency. I do think that it’s a little easier when you’ve got that strong family culture and can get your family together to talk about these issues. We’re 1,200 strong with one primary location. That means leadership is able to talk to the physicians and nurses on a daily basis about what will make their day run better, both for them and their patients. That is one of Deborah’s significant assets.
I’ve been employed at the Deborah Heart and Lung Center for 43 years and CEO since 2011. Clearly, there are more years behind me than there are ahead of me in my career. That affects my goal setting for the future of the Center and naturally I’ve spent a lot of time in the last five years planning succession, which is critically important. A lot of the team members that I work with arrived around the same time I did back in the late 1970s, and will also be leaving at some point soon. I want to make sure that I leave the right leadership and the right staff behind for this organization to live on for another 100 years. I’d like that to be my legacy. When I came to Deborah, I came to a really great place at the very beginning of my career. I’d like to leave it as a really great place at the end of my time here.