As we continue to celebrate Shore Medical Center’s 75th Anniversary, we are honored to share with you a story on Dr. Irving E. Braverman, who became a resident physician at Shore in 1939, and served as Hospital Administrator from 1951 through 1958. Assisting with this story is Dr. Braverman’s son Jan and his daughter Sue Braverman McAfee. We thank them for sharing their family history.
After graduating from the Middlesex University Medical School of Waltham, MA in 1936 (which became Brandeis University), Dr. Braverman completed internships in Chicago and Brooklyn. His residency brought him to Shore Memorial Hospital in 1939, where he lived in two rooms on the first floor of the original Spanish mission-style stucco building. He was in charge of running the entire operation, from cafeteria menus to the emergency room, and from hiring janitorial workers to nurses. He was the anesthesiologist and surgeon, and delivered more than 5,000 babies from 1939 to 1974. He was also active in the community, serving on the Board of Education in Somers Point for nearly 10 years, and was president of the Board when the Jordan Road School was built. He was also a founding Board member for the Eva Anderson Scholarship Fund.
In 1940 he hired Eleanor Roth from Ocean City as a nurse. Two years later they married and she moved in with him at the hospital. Three individuals close to the family offered these kind sentiments:
Linda Klein Gemmel – He was a kind man and never turned anyone away due to lack of ability to pay. He was always pleasant and made people laugh, relaxing them in his presence. People loved him because he was a good man and doctor who truly cared about his patients.
Donna Klein – He was a good doctor and he saved my life when another doctor couldn’t deliver me.
Faye Brown, whose husband Dr. Sterling Brown came to Shore Memorial in 1947, recalls that her husband and Dr. Braverman used to cover OB for each other so they could get a break. Faye fondly remembers Eleanor Roth spending the night with her before she delivered her first son, and the Bravermans often babysat her son if she and her husband wanted to go out for a while.
Jan Braverman, who lived his first eight years in the hospital, shares his memories of his father:
My dad was very frequently recognized throughout Atlantic and Cape May counties since Shore served both counties at that time. Everywhere we went someone came up to him to say hello and thank him for something. In 1939, Dad came to Shore with a doctor friend from Atlantic City whom he had met in his internship days in Brooklyn. After graduating from a Massachusetts university that later became Brandeis University, he served a year of internship in a Chicago hospital in 1937 and saw quite a few patients wounded in gangland happenings. From his early days as a hospital resident, many people remembered him from a visit to the emergency room. At Tommy Fiori's Fairmount Inn on the Black Horse Pike, the organ player always came to our table to recall a time when Dad had "saved his life" on a visit to the emergency room. Gradually, people were usually saying they remembered Dad delivering one of their children.
I remember most the interruptions of dinner in the Johnson Avenue and Shore Road houses where a phone call would cause him to rush to the hospital. Mom would always say "Take your time!" He never seemed to mind being called. Often, he would not return home until I was getting ready to go to school after he spent the whole night tending to a patient in labor. He had an absolute knack of taking 10 or 15 minute naps and being back on his feet.
I remember well that the night stand and floor next to his bed were always stacked with medical journals. He spent a great deal of time reading the latest medical literature and reports. I can remember being driven to school by him on the day after the Surgeon General released the first report linking cigarettes and lung cancer. He stopped smoking that day with never a second's hesitation.
Dad was working as the anesthesiologist during the time he was Superintendent of the Hospital. Prior to my sister being born, Mom was a full-time nurse working 11 to 7 each night. That way she was always there when I got home from school. We ate all of our meals in the hospital dining room.
It was not too long after he started as Superintendent, and his daughter was born, that we moved to Johnson Avenue instead of moving upstairs to the Superintendent apartment on the top floor over the kitchen/dining room wing on the North end of the hospital. I can remember Dad working over the plans for the first new wing of the hospital at the kitchen table on Johnson Avenue. There were even times when the architect came to sit around the kitchen table with him.
Dad always took Fridays off and we usually went to Atlantic City and walked on the Boardwalk - even in the winter. The big treat would be a stop at the Swiss Pastry Shop behind Atlantic City High School which made wonderful things that I have since learned were actually authentically European.
There was only a washing machine at the Nurse's Home up the hill from the hospital so that Mom would carry clothes up there. Her sister Mary Virginia lived in the Nurse's Home and worked as a nurse at the hospital. Both of her other two sisters were nurses as well.
The hospital was a very accommodating place for a family with young children. The nurses were absolutely marvelous. It was like having dozens of aunts. One of them (Grace Web) even occasionally took me to stay with her and her husband on weekends. I had a play room with a big train table in the basement of the hospital and a sandbox outside next to the ambulance garage.
Dr. Braverman passed away on September 18, 1995, but his memory lives on in thousands of families he helped in the community, and his incredible impact and legacy at Shore.
Pictured Above: Dr. Braverman holds his son, Jan Braverman, during the early days of Shore Medical Center.