The Syracuse VA Medical Center opened its doors 60 years ago today, on June 14, 1953. Today it’s a 106-bed general medical and surgical hospital serving veterans from 13 counties of Central New York.
The facility was under construction in the early 1950s. “I will always know its age, because my father took a job there upon its opening because he needed steady income after the birth of his third child,” says Dr. David Duggan, MD, Upstate’s dean of the College of Medicine and medical director for Upstate University Hospital. His father, John Duggan (pictured below with classmates in his second year of medical school) was the Syracuse A’s first Chief of Medicine.
“The VA has been our longest and closest partner,” Duggan says. “Ninety percent or more of our students and residents spend some time there, and many VA doctors are faculty here.”
Today as it marks its 60th anniversary, the Syracuse VA also unveils its new Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder Center, part of a $90 million six-story addition.
The Syracuse Veterans Administration Medical Center was originally conceived as a thousand-bed neuropsychiatric hospital, and was so approved by President Harry Truman in December 1945, according to archives at Upstate’s Health Sciences Library, next door to the VA, at 800 Irving Ave. Duggan was the first Chief of Medicine. Ralph Matheny, MD, was its first manager, and Lloyd Rogers, MD, was its first Chief of Surgery. In 1959 the VA was the site of the first artificial kidney machine in Syracuse.
The Syracuse VA is the principal referral center for neurosurgery and urological renal stone treatment, serving all of upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania veterans. It also provides comprehensive primary, tertiary and long-term care, mental health care, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, oncology, dentistry and geriatrics.
Learn more about the Syracuse VA Medical Center
Read about the VA’s new Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder Center