Onondaga County began a tradition of caring for individuals unable to fend for themselves with the founding of The Onondaga County Home, known then as the “Poorhouse,” in December of 1827. “Inmates”, as they were then called, included “individuals with ‘incurable’ diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer, “crippled” persons who could no longer work, indigents, and those who were destitute.” In 1860 a building was completed for the accommodation of the “insane”. This “safety net” role was one played by many governments at that time.
In 1900 an Infirmary, “for the segregation of physically ill persons,” was constructed and in 1916 the Onondaga County Tuberculosis Sanatorium was opened. By 1945 the Infirmary had more patients than any other medical facility in the County and the “Welfare Department” was swamped with admission applications. At that time, there were 254 acute care beds, a maternity ward, 150 beds for the disabled and 400 ‘inmates’ in facilities scattered across Onondaga Hill. In 1948, the County turned the Tuberculosis Sanatorium over to the New York State Department of Health. It was closed in 1959 and a part of the former sanatorium grounds was deeded to the Community General Hospital of Greater Syracuse.