Touro Hospital in 1919

Touro Hospital in 1919

Photo courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection

New Orleans’ longest-serving hospital, Touro Infirmary, has a history as storied as New Orleans itself. The hospital was founded in 1852 by businessman and philanthropist Judah Touro. Touro purchased the Paulding Mansion in the lower Garden District and the home was converted into a 28-bed hospital, with Joseph Bensadon as the founding surgeon. The hospital was renamed in Touro’s honor after he died in 1854. During the Civil War, the hospital was converted into a home for the “Jewish Aged” to prevent it from being taken over by the Union Army.

In 1882, the hospital moved to its current location at Prytania and Aline Streets. The hospital began a maternity service in 1922 and purchased the city’s first incubators that year. In the 1923, the hospital was one of 15 in the United States to begin insulin testing. Six years later, the hospital opened the first physical therapy department in the city.

The hospital has continually expanded. An addition in 1965 increased the hospital’s capacity to 560 beds; a new patient complex was opened in 1977; and the Buckman Medical Office broke ground in 1980. The latest addition is a new outpatient rehabilitation center on St. Charles Avenue that opened in 2016.

The hospital was forced to close in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, but it reopened less than a month later.

In 2009, Touro and Children’s Hospital created a two-hospital medical system, LCMC Health. In 2015, the system expanded to include University Medical Center and West Jefferson Medical Center.