Franklin Hospital is turning 50 this year, and that means it’s time to celebrate.
On Jan. 17, a group of hospital leaders and employees charged with planning the 50th anniversary celebration met for the first time. Their discussions centered on a pair of events that are in the works for later this year, including a gala celebration and an employee recognition picnic.
The main event would be a gala in October, and committee members are exploring dates, venues and even possible themes. The event would serve as both a fundraiser for the hospital and a celebration of its 50 years of service to the community. Franklin Hospital is the primary health care facility for Valley Stream, Franklin Square, Malverne and other surrounding towns.
The gala would raise money through ticket sales, raffles and journal ads. The honorees would include Gary Walter, a longtime hospital board member, and his wife, Marlene. A physician would also be honored, a selection that would likely come from the hospital’s doctors. Catherine Hottendorf, the facility’s executive director, said that it is important to recognize a doctor because the hospital was founded five decades ago by a group of physicians.
The committee is also looking to plan a picnic for employees and their families this summer, and is considering Valley Stream State Park, among other facilities. Ideas include a barbecue, with a variety of games and races. Committee members also suggested having a dunk tank, with employees given a chance to dunk prominent leaders from the hospital and the North Shore-LIJ health system.
“I think that’s a good idea to have recognition for the employees,” said committee member Vincent Cunningham, a North Shore-LIJ community relations coordinator.
The committee members said that a picnic would be an opportunity to build camaraderie within the hospital’s staff, and give those who can’t attend the gala a chance to take part in the anniversary celebration.
Cunningham also suggested having a banner hung on the hospital, on Franklin Avenue in North Valley Stream, proclaiming the anniversary.
Franklin General Hospital opened on April 1, 1963, with 146 beds. It grew steadily over the next few decades, adding nearly 160 more beds, an emergency department, hospice and psychiatric units and a parking garage, and changed names twice. The adjoining Orzac Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation, a 120-bed facility named for one of the hospital’s founders, Dr. Edward Orzac, opened in January 1989.
In 1995, Franklin joined the North Shore-LIJ health system, which officially took over ownership of the hospital in 2002.
Other ideas to mark the 50th anniversary include a car raffle and expanded community outreach programs. Hottendorf, who chairs the anniversary committee, gave her members a simple charge for the anniversary year: “Let’s make it golden.”
The 50th anniversary, she said, can be a great opportunity for the hospital to reach out to the community and highlight its services. She added that community awareness should remain a focus for the year, even as the committee plans celebratory events.
“I think 50 is so monumental because we’ve come so far and we’re going to go even farther,” Hottendorf said. “We want to be here for another 50 years.”