Staten Island Public Health Service Hospital

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Staten Island Public Health Service Hospital
Established 1831
Opened 1831/1935(Current Building)
Current Status Active
Building Style Single Building
Location Staten Island, NYC, NY
Architecture Style Mayan Revival
Alternate Names
  • Seaman’s Retreat
  • United States Marine Hospital
  • Bayley Seton Hospital
  • Richmond University Medical Center
  • Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center


On October 1, 1831, Staten Island’s first hospital, the Seaman’s Retreat, founded to serve retired Naval and commercial sailors, was opened near the location of the future town of Stapleton. On May 6, 1857, the Port of New York Quarantine Hospital in Tompkinsville, about a mile north along the shore, was attacked by a local mob, fearful that the mostly immigrant detainees on the grounds might be capable of spreading contagious diseases to the local populace. The next year, on September 1, 1858, a mob again attacked the hospital, burning it down. At this time, the duties and patients of the Quarantine were moved to two small islands off Staten Island.

In 1874, some of these resources were transferred to the Marine Hospital Service buildings. By 1883, the entire complex of buildings was operated as the United States Marine Hospital. The “National Institutes of Health” as the laboratory became known, operated out of the attic rooms from 1887 to 1891. The building that housed the laboratory still stands and is part of the former Bayley Seton Hospital complex. In 1902, the United States Congress passed legislation to fund the “Laboratory of Hygiene for Bacteriological Investigation,” and moved it to Washington where, as a result of the 1930 Ransdell Act, it became the National Institutes of Health. Staten Island once again was the founding home of a nationally recognized and successful venture for the good of the American population.

In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt began a campaign to construct and maintain U.S. Public Health Service Hospitals, to serve the Military, veterans, and the general public. As part of this process, what is now the main building of Bayley Seton was constructed. Staten Island Public Health Service Hospital was built as a five- to seven-story hospital, in a Mayan Revival style.

Until 1981, the Public Health Service Hospital operated both in-patient and out-patient services, emergency, surgery, and rehabilitation wards. In 1980, President Reagan announced plans to close or sell all such hospitals, and despite local protest, Staten Island’s Public Health Service Hospital was sold to the Sisters of Charity, New York, a Catholic medical and social services system. The Sisters of Charity renamed the hospital Bayley Seton after New York’s Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, and her father Richard Bayley, an American-born British Army Revolutionary War surgeon and founder of the New York Dispensary. Bayley also was the head of the Quarantine Station for the port of New York at Tompkinsville.

The new hospital expanded its campus buildings to include the Saint Elizabeth Ann out-patient clinics and turned over part of the campus to the New York Foundling Hospital. In the 1990s, Amethyst House, a women’s drug abuse treatment center, was opened, as well as an Alcoholism Acute Care Unit on the 3rd floor, a Saint Vincent’s Nursing School on the fifth floor, social service agencies in other buildings, including the Saint Elizabeth Ann’s Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, with hospital in-patient drug rehab treatment services, services for co-occurring mental and substance abuse disorders, a psych emergency center (a Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program — CPEP), and the center for a mental health client dispersed housing and in-community employment program.

Though the hospital complex is barely used today, as compared to the bustling activity there in years past, it still is a remarkable campus of 19th and 20th century buildings, whose sole purpose throughout their history has been the betterment of the human condition. 