The Early Days of Jackson Health System

By Christine Alexis

This year, Jackson Health System will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The former Miami City Hospital opened its doors on June 25, 1918, replacing Friendly Society Hospital on Biscayne Boulevard. Although it was summertime, it opened during an influenza outbreak and quickly reached capacity. The hospital grew rapidly, and an emergency room was established a few years later.

The hospital overcame significant obstacles and made strides in the decades that followed. On Sept. 17, 1926, a major hurricane hit Miami and the hospital lost power. Staff members treated more than 700 victims and also helped establish relief stations throughout the area. In 1946, Jackson built the city’s first cancer detection center and was the only hospital in the region to offer radium treatment for cancer. In 1956, physician Robert S. Litwak performed the first open-heart surgery in Florida, and, in 1960, the hospital began offering dialysis treatment.

Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, the hospital was recognized for its advanced technology. In 1992, the hospital opened the Ryder Trauma Center just weeks before Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida. The hospital continued to expand with clinics, a primary care center and other facilities. In 2001, Jackson Health System was created to incorporate the company’s geographic footprint. The same year, Jackson acquired Deering Hospital and named it Jackson South Medical Center. Five years later, Parkway Regional Medical Center became Jackson North Medical Center.

Information for this feature is courtesy of the HistoryMiami Archives & Research Center, which is open to the public and contains more than 1.5 million images of southeast Florida, the entire state and the Caribbean from 1883 to the present. For information or to visit HistoryMiami, visit historymiami.org.

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