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The Early Days
Belmont Behavioral Health evolved from the dreams and efforts of many people. It came into being and prospered because of the generosity and initiative of countless others. Back in the 1930s, its founders were moved by the plight of those who suffered from mental and emotional illness. At that time, state hospitals were so overcrowded that they could hardly offer more than custodial care. Only the wealthy could afford private institutions.
Instead, Belmont’s founders envisioned a private psychiatric hospital that would offer comprehensive care of the highest quality at relatively low cost. In particular, they felt a compelling need to provide quality mental health services to Philadelphia’s Jewish community. Their goal was to create an institution that would emphasize short-term care and would work with other agencies to help patients return to a useful life.
The original incorporators of the hospital included Benjamin Galerman, an electrical contractor; Samuel Berk, a real estate broker; Gabriel Berk, an attorney, Jere Creskoff, an attorney; and Dr. N.W. Winkelman, a prominent psychiatrist. Joining them later were Maurice G. Cohn, a businessman; Samuel Radbill, an oil executive; and Zvee Einbinder, a public relations writer.
Galerman inspired Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Berk to donate their suburban home in Warrington, near Doylestown, as the site of the hospital. Berk asked that it be named to honor his son, Horace, who had died of a heart ailment.
Rapid progress followed the Berk gift. A charter was obtained on June 1, 1937 and a short while later a Board of Directors was formally organized. Shortly after the new hospital was opened, it was recognized that the site’s distance from Philadelphia did not make it an ideal location. It was decided to temporarily locate the hospital at 1633 Spruce Street in Philadelphia while a new site was sought.
Operating funds and increasing support came from the community and by January, 1938 the 13-bed Horace Berk Memorial Hospital was ready to admit its first patient.
Another special gift from Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Radbill of a building and 4 ½ acres of land at Ford and Monument Roads brought the hospital to its present location. Following this gift, the charter was amended in 1940 to change the name of the institution to Philadelphia Psychiatric Hospital.
A new 60-bed facility, later known as the Winkelman Building, opened in 1941. In that same year, the hospital became an agency of the Federation of Jewish Charities of Philadelphia.
In 1942, David H. Pleet donated land and in the years that followed, additional land was acquired at this location.
In the years that followed, a new hospital building, known as the Radbill Building, provided an additional 47 inpatient beds, plus a 30-bed treatment pavilion. An occupational and recreational building was dedicated in honor of Bernard S. Pincus, a food industry executive. Mr. and Mrs. Myer Feinstein provided a nurses’ residence, named the Feinstein Building, in memory of Feinstein’s parents. In 1960, the Wurzel Building, honoring Lillian and Joseph Wurzzel, was dedicated to house the Research Department. A gift from Irving Schwartz made possible the construction of the Irving Schwartz Institute for Children and Youth, which opened in 1962 on 2 ½ acres of ground purchased from the old Woodside Amusement park. That year also marked the changing of the hospital’s name to Philadelphia Psychiatric Center, in recognition of the broader scope of its work.
Over the years new programs and services were introduced. The nursing department was reorganized under Ina D. Saft, RN, Social Services and Psychology Departments were established, a program for training resident physicians and addictions programs were inaugurated. The Drug Abuse Treatment Program with satellite clinics was established. In the early 1980s, the program took its current name, Woodside Hall, and expanded to include outpatient and inpatient treatment of drug, alcohol and gambling addictions. Several years later, a partial hospitalization program known as CAREER® was begun for individuals seeking treatment while maintaining commitments to work and school.
The hospital opened the Philadelphia Center for Human Development to serve Northeast Philadelphia in 1975. And in 1977, an educational affiliation was established with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.
In 1978, the Board of Directors approved plans for a $9.5 million dollar capital development program to replace or modernize all facilities. That renewal project included the construction of a new building (the Main Building), renovation of the Radbill Building and replacement of the outmoded Winkelman Building.
Affiliation with Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia
As the psychiatric needs of the Philadelphia community grew, the hospital’s commitment to the delivery of quality psychiatric care increased. At the same time, the many changes taking place in the healthcare delivery and financial reimbursement systems created increased competition for all private, non-profit psychiatric hospitals. In order to maintain the hospital’s premier clinical standards, as well as to remain consistently responsive to our patients, the hospital entered into a letter of intent to merge and a management contract with the Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia in 1981.
The merger of the Philadelphia Psychiatric Center and the Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia took place in July 1983.
Belmont’s Competitive Edge
Just as psychiatry continued to advance, the hospital has kept pace with innovative treatment programs designed to better serve the needs of the community as a whole along with the needs of referring physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and masters level therapists. Over time, the hospital’s service offerings expanded to include the full continuum of inpatient, outpatient and day treatment care for adolescents, adults and older adults needing mental health or substance abuse treatment along with the development of treatment expertise in specialized needs such as eating disorders, compulsive gambling and deaf treatment.
In May, 1991, the hospital opened the Outpatient Care Center which now houses a number of ambulatory programs including Woodside Hall Outpatient Addictions Program; the Women’s Center; the Outpatient Department; the Family Center; and the Adult, Adolescent, Older Adult, CAREER® and Eating Disorders Day Treatment Programs.
Throughout the 1990s, the hospital instituted an impressive array of programs in response to the growing treatment needs of several discrete populations and in order to meet the latest clinical and research challenges.
Now in 2007, Belmont Behavioral Health is celebrating its 70th year of providing compassionate care for the treatment of addictions, depression, eating disorders and mood disorders to children, adolescents, adults and older adults from southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.
Treatment Services & Programs
Therapy Groups and ClassesBelmont Behavioral Health has a variety of outpatient therapy groups for children, adolescents and adults.
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