4. Bellevue Hospital opened NYC’s first morgue, among many other firsts

Morgue illustration

In addition to being the first public hospital in the U.S., Bellevue Hospital achieved a significant number of medical firsts that have paved the way for major developments in medicine and other treatments.

  • Bellevue opened the nation’s first maternity ward in 1799.
  • In 1808, the hospital conducted the world’s first ligation of the femoral artery, located in the thigh, for an aneurysm. Ten years later, the hospital also performed the world’s first ligation of the brachiocephalic artery supplying blood to the right arm, neck, and head.
  • New York’s first medical college with connections to a hospital was Bellevue Hospital Medical College, which opened in 1861.
  • In 1862, Bellevue cardiologist Austin Flint gave his name to a low-pitched heart murmur he identified, which is associated with a condition called aortic regurgitation.
  • The hospital played a major role in helping draft what is likely the nation’s first sanitary code for New York City in 1867. Later that year, the hospital established one of the country’s first outpatient departments.
  • In 1873, Bellevue opened the country’s first nursing school using Florence Nightingale’s teachings. The nation’s first men’s nursing school opened 15 years later at Bellevue.
  • The hospital opened the nation’s first children’s clinic in 1874.
  • The nation’s first emergency pavilion was opened at Bellevue in 1876.
  • The hospital’s Carnegie Laboratory, which opened in 1884, was the country’s first pathology and bacteriology laboratory.
  • Physicians at Bellevue were the first to identify tuberculosis as a preventable disease in 1889.
  • The nation’s first ambulatory cardiac clinic opened in 1911 at Bellevue, which paved the way for the world’s first cardiopulmonary laboratory that opened in 1942 and the nation’s first heart failure clinic.
  • Physician William Tillett discovered streptokinase at Bellevue in 1933, which was used to treat heart attacks.
  • The nation’s first mitral valve replacement took place at Bellevue in 1960.
  • In 1962, the hospital established the first intensive care unit at a municipal hospital.
  • In 1971, Bellevue physicians developed the first active immunization for hepatitis B.