As early as 1948, there were visions of opening a hospital in Valley Stream. Fifteen years later, that dream became a reality when Franklin General Hospital opened its doors.
On April 1, 1963, the hospital on Franklin Avenue in North Valley Stream accepted its first patients with 146 beds available. The facility was owned by a group of seven founding doctors, along with 55 other area physicians who helped finance Franklin’s construction. In the 50 years since its inception, the hospital has undergone numerous expansions and changes.
It only took a year for 60 more beds to be added, as Nassau County suffered from a lack of hospital services in the 1960s. In 1970, ground was broken for a major building expansion.
A decade after the hospital opened, it went from a privately-owned facility to a public not-for-profit medical center. Valley Stream resident Robert Blakeman, a former state assemblyman, led a group that purchased Franklin from the doctors. He said that because the hospital was a profit-making entity, it was quickly developing a negative reputation in the community that overshadowed the care being given.
“We want to preserve a good quality hospital for the surrounding communities,” said Blakeman, who was the first president of the hospital’s Board of Trustees after the transfer. “It functioned much better as a not-for-profit.”
In 1977, the hospital acquired the former Dan’s Supermarket building further down Franklin Avenue and opened it up as an annex. The building housed administrative offices.
Audrey Tullo, the community relations liaison who has been at Franklin since 1974, started out working in the main building in a converted elevator shaft. She moved into the annex when it opened — to a spot that used to house the supermarket’s frozen food section.
Franklin prepared for further expansion in 1983 by purchasing the Skoblinski lumber yard, just south of the building. Five years later, a skilled nursing home was opened on the site which, over the years, evolved into the Orzac Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation. The 120-bed building, which is attached to the hospital, is named for Dr. Edward Orzac, one of Franklin’s founders, who died late last year.