The Spirit of National Jewish - a Brief History
Her philanthropic works were so respected and appreciated that her stained glass image, adorns the dome of Colorado ’s state capitol in the company of 15 other prominent Colorado pioneers.
Frances left her must enduring mark in the area of tuberculosis relief. No facilities existed to provide treatment or shelter to these victims. Unafraid to touch the ill, Frances would help them when they fell on the street, get them to a physician and pay for treatment. However, as there was no place for tubercular individuals to stay during treatment, many were transported to the local jail.
It was obvious that the Denver community at large was not very sympathetic to the plight of needy TB sufferers, and many argued that “we can’t blacken the name of the city” by making it a TB refuge.
Although her vision was on its way to becoming a reality, Frances did not live to see the hospital built. She became ill with pneumonia. Instead of following her physician’s advice to stay home and recuperate, Frances kept to her calling and continued to provide assistance for the medically indigent of Denver . Frances died in the spring of 1892, at the age of 49. She was widely mourned, and over 4,000 people attended her funeral. The memorial service, which was open to all faiths, was presided over by Rabbi Friedman and three leading Christian clergyman. Guest speakers also included the governor of Colorado , the mayor of Denver , and other prominent Denverites. The laying of the hospital’s cornerstone on October 9, 1892 drew huge crowds. It was decided to name the hospital “Frances Jacobs Hospital ” in memorial to Frances .
Rabbi Friedman’s speech during the ceremony stressed the non-sectarian nature of the new hospital and its wide-reaching goal of providing relief to the indigent suffers of TB. Unfortunately, due to the combination of the “Silver Crisis of 1893” and a national depression in the 1890s, the hospital did not open and sat vacant for a number of years.
When it did open on December 10, 1899, it had a new name -- National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives.
While a project of the B’nai B’rith, the renamed National Jewish Hospital was non-denominational. The first patient was a Protestant Swedish woman from Minnesota. To reflect its openness to the impoverished of every background, National Jewish adopted the motto:
"None may enter who can pay -- none can pay who enter”
Until 1968, the institution only accepted patients without insurance and all care was free. In keeping with this philosophy, we still provide millions of dollars of free or heavily subsidized care each year to ensure that patients who need our services can get them.