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Rehabilitation Medicine

Our History: NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell

The Rehabilitation Medicine Department at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is one of the largest in the nation. With more than 50 years experience, we have assembled a team of professionals that is unequaled in experience and expertise.

We invite you to browse through the following timeline to learn about the history of Rehabilitation Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center (formerly New York Hospital).

1953 A pilot program of rehabilitation is set up at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center; made possible by a grant from The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Cornell University Medical School is one of four in the nation who elects to start such a training program in rehabilitation. It is an interdepartmental program under the direction of Dr. Harold N. Willard for adults and Dr. Barbara Korsch for Pediatrics with close relations with the neurologic section, the fracture service, and the Department of Surgery.
1957 Medical Board votes in favor of the Rehabilitation Committee becoming a Committee of the Medical Board. The program continues to be interdepartmental in scope but now has the scientific and professional responsibility of conducting and expanding itself and for making recommendations with respect to its financing aspects.
1958 Rehabilitation officially becomes The Section on Physical Medicine functioning within the Department of Medicine, headed by Dr. Kenneth C. Archibald.
1968 President of The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center proposes the creation of The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and that the Division of Rehabilitation is removed from under the auspices of the Department of Medicine.
1969 Dr. Willibald Nagler named director of the Department of Rehabilitation; later becomes the first appointed physiatrist-in-chief.
1976 The Joan Whitney Payson Rehabilitation Pavilion is dedicated. The new facility, under the direction of Dr. Willibald Nagler, now occupies the entire eighteenth floor of the Hospital, consolidating the previously scattered facilities. In addition to examination and diagnostic rooms, large spaces are given to the therapeutic areas of occupational and physical therapy including a therapeutic pool. The staff includes physiatrists, physiatrists in training, 22 physical therapists and 7 occupational therapists.
1976 Opening of a 24-bed Burn Center at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Helena Rubinstein Foundation awards a grant to the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine to be used for hiring and training burn therapists.
1989 The Helmsley Center for Rehabilitation Medicine opens on East 70th Street to accommodate an increase in the number of outpatients.
1997 The merger of The New York Hospital and The Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York establishes New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Opening of The Greenberg Pavilion with satellite offices and therapy facilities on site.
2000 Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine merge with Dr. James S. Lieberman named Chief of Rehabilitation of both Columbia-Presbyterian Center and NewYork-Weill Cornell Center.
2001 Dr. Michael W. O'Dell named Associate Chief of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the NewYork Weill Cornell Center.
The Helmsley Center moves to the sixteenth floor of the main hospital.
2003 Opening of The Rubin and Marie Shulsky Rehabilitation Medicine Center and the hospital's first inpatient rehabilitation unit, the Sue and John L. Weinberg Inpatient Rehabilitation Medicine Center. Expansion of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine to encompass three entire floors of the hospital.

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