Wanna smile? Just listen to Jim.

James H. Abbott, hospital administrator, 1953-1971 and 1989-2000

James H. Abbott, hospital administrator at Upstate, 1964-1971. Photo circa 1964.

Need a boost? Ask retired hospital administrator James H. Abbott about his career at Upstate. “Very exciting,” he smiles. “Thoroughly enjoyable.”

A Syracuse native, Jim began his career with the US Public Health Service in Staten Island and Washington, DC. In 1953, he returned to Syracuse as an administrator at Good Shepherd Hospital and moved to Upstate’s downtown hospital when it opened in 1964.

What does Jim remember about the plans for building Upstate’s downtown hospital?

Jim smiles in the midst of the construction, Upstate, 1963

Jim Abbott smiles in the midst of the construction at Upstate, 1963-’64.

“They started making noise about building a hospital in 1950,” he explains. “SUNY had just bought the medical school from Syracuse University. It was the first general hospital operated by the state. The folks in Albany were very supportive, willing to learn.”

Were there any difficulties associated with the 1965 move from Good Shepherd to Upstate?

“One of the patients suffered a coronary occlusion during the transfer,” Jim explains excitedly. “The patient recovered, but I thought I was going to have one, too!”

(Jim and his colleagues moved more than 50 patients by ambulance from the Hospital of the Good Shepherd to the new SUNY Upstate University Hospital on a Sunday in July 1965.)

“A Farewell to Old Hospital” Jim Abbott and an assistant move furniture out of the old Good Shepherd Hospital. From the Post Standard

“A Farewell to Old Hospital.” Jim Abbott and Doris Scott move furniture out of the old Good Shepherd Hospital. From the Post Standard, July 1965.

How does Jim describe his former colleagues?

Charlie Calligaris: “One of God’s nobleman.”

“Jake” Jacobsen: “Really terrific at planning the hospital.”

“Cookie” Jacobsen: “A great lady. Unusual person. Very solid, fun. Quiet humor.”

Pat Numann (whom he still sees occasionally): “To become the first woman chief resident of surgery and president of the American College of Surgeons, she must be at the right hand of the Almighty.”

Upstate colleagues in general?

“A bunch of great people. Giants walk the halls of that medical school!”

Today, Jim and his wife, Mary, are happily retired and living on Syracuse’s east side.

About susankeeter

Occasional contributor Upstate’s Susan Keeter has written about and painted Upstate’s Dr. Sarah Loguen, one of the first African American women physicians. Keeter created the horse sculpture in front of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and illustrated a children’s book on autism, “Waiting for Benjamin.” She’s written for Physician Practice, Upstate Alumni Journal, Cancer Care and Upstate Health magazines. Reach her by email at keeters@upstate.edu or by phone at 315-464-4834.
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