Hospitals
Home Hospitals Special Exhibit

Black-owned and -operated Hospitals in the Detroit Metropolitan Area During the 20th Century

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Bailey General Hospital (c. 1970-1974)

Founder:
Claud Young, D.O.

Location:
292 E. Ferry

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Bethesda Hospital

Bethesda Hospital
Detroit, Michigan (1931-1965)

Founders:
Dr. Alfred E. Thomas Sr.

Location:
544 E. Garfield, Detroit, Michigan (83 beds)

The problem of racial segregation in Detroit hospitals and a raging tuberculosis epidemic led to the opening of the hospital in 1931. The facility was primarily used as a tuberculosis treatment hospital as its founder, Dr. Alfred Thomas Sr. and son, Dr. Alfred Thomas Jr., sought their own private solutions to the serious health problems facing the African American community in Detroit. Six years later, Bethesda was joined by its "sister" institution, Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital, which Dr. Thomas Sr. opened for the care of the acutely ill patient. The combined capacity for both institutions was approximately 197 patients.

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Boulevard General Hospital

Boulevard General Hospital
Detroit, MI
(c. 1960-1974)

Founders:
Drs. Harold Johnson and
Frank Raiford III

Location:
1852 West Grand Boulevard (100-plus beds)

The hospital was founded in the early 1960s as a non-profit community hospital when Trinity Hospital moved from its East Vernor Highway location in Detroit to the old Resthaven Hospital location. Boulevard General Hospital was administered by Mr. George Allen, Detroit's first graduate-degreed African American hospital administrator, under the direction of the Crestwood Corporation, a group of physician investors. Co-founder Dr. Raiford III graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1943. Boulevard General was the largest of the four hospitals (including Burton Mercy, Trumbull General and Delray General) that merged in 1974 to form the Southwest Detroit Hospital.

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Burton Mercy Hospital

Burton Mercy Hospital
Detroit, Michigan (1949-1974)

Founders:
Drs. DeWitt T. Burton and Chester Ames

Location:
271 Eliot: 1949-96 beds; 1952-74 (150 beds)

Following the death of Dr. Ames, the hospital continued to thrive and grow. The name was changed from Wayne Diagnostic No.1 to Burton Mercy, and by 1952 had undergone a major expansion to a 150-bed institution. It had also been incorporated. The expanded facilities included a second operating room, a second delivery room, an autopsy room, a pharmacy, an enlarged medical laboratory, and numerous patient and staff support departments. Dr. Burton's wife, Alice, assisted Dr. Burton through each phase of the hospital's development by providing administrative support.

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Dunbar Memorial Hospital

Dunbar Memorial Hospital
Detroit, Michigan (1918-1927)

Founders:
A group of physicians, including Dr. J.W. Ames; Dr. Albert Johnson; Dr. George Bundy; Dr. R. Beck; Dr. Alfred E. Thomas Sr.; Dr. Alexander Turner.
Location:
580 Frederick St. (27 beds)

Dunbar Hospital was the result of planning by a biracial committee intent on establishing a non-profit institution that could serve the African American population of Detroit. In addition to 27 beds, the facility included an operating room. In 1924, shortly before moving and becoming Parkside Hospital, the facility was expanded to 40 beds. Playing crucial roles in the newly opened facility in 1918 were Drs. James Ames and Alexander Turner, the medical director and chief of surgery, respectively. Dr. George Bundy is believed to have performed deliveries at Woman's Hospital, even though he was denied admitting privileges there.

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Fairview Sanitorium (1931-c. 1960)

Founders:
Robert Greenidge, M.D.; Rupert Markoe, M.D.; J. P. Young, M.D.; Julius Graham, M.D.

Location:
441 E. Ferry

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Good Samaritan Hospital

Good Samaritan Hospital, Detroit Michigan (1929-1966)

Founders:
Mrs. Bertha McKenzie and Dr. Ossian Sweet

Locations:
503 E. Palmer, Detroit, Michigan (35 beds)

Howard University-trained nurse Bertha McKenzie and Dr. Ossian Sweet opened Good Samaritan as a general and maternity hospital, increasing the medical resources for African American physicians and patients in Detroit. Because of the racial discrimination at facilities such as Herman Keifer Hospital, Good Samaritan was converted to a tuberculosis hospital in 1936. In 1945, after medical discoveries such as antibiotics began to successfully combat the tuberculosis problem in Detroit, as well as the shortage of nurses caused by WWII, Good Samaritan changed course again and became a convalescent hospital caring for chronically ill and post-operative patients. The institution closed its doors in 1966 because of economic pressures.

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Haynes Memorial Hospital (c. 1950-1967)

Founders:
Alfred E. Thomas, Sr., M.D. and Alfred E. Thomas, Jr., M.D.

Location:
73 E. Palmer

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Kirwood General Hospital

Kirwood General Hospital
Detroit, Michigan (1943-1974)

Founders:
Dr. Guy O. Saulsberry

Location:
301 E. Kirby, 1943 (27 beds)
Two expansions brought capacity to 50 beds

After attempting and failing to gain admission to the staff of Woman's Hospital, Dr. Guy O. Saulsberry (Howard, m '27) established his own hospital; the first was a converted mansion with a capacity of 27 beds. Two subsequent expansions increased the hospital's capacity to 50 beds. In 1958 the hospital became non-profit.
   
As with many African American facilities, pressure was put on them to move. The city wanted to use the 301 Kirby Street location to build the Center for Creative Studies. The institution was moved several miles away, to the corner of W. Davison and Petosky.

In 1967, Kirwood opened its new, well-equipped facility with 161 beds and 12 medical departments. After only eight months, the hospital achieved three-year accreditation.

Kirwood General Hospital 1967
Davison and Petosky location
161 beds

Two noteworthy legacies of Kirwood:
* Kirwood was the site of some of the initial sickle-cell research conducted by Dr. Charles F. Whitten
* The residual funds of various accounts within the hospital were, upon its closing, used to pay off the Dunbar Memorial Hospital Museum's mortgage.

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Mercy General Hospital

Mercy General Hospital
Detroit, Michigan (1917-1976)

Founders:
Drs. David and Daisy Northcross
Locations:
73 Russell St (20 beds)
688 Winder (34 beds)
2929 W. Boston Boulevard (50 beds)

After fleeing the Klu Klux Klan in Montgomery, Alabama, Drs. David and Daisy Northcross settled in Detroit, MI, intent on rebuilding their medical practice and providing medical care for Detroit's African American community. They met with other physicians who formed the Allied Medical Society, precursor to the Detroit Medical Society, hoping to become a part of the Society's endeavor to open a hospital facility for African Americans.

The Northcrosses, having operated a hospital in the South, brought much administrative knowledge to the table, and they finally chose to strike out on their own and succeeded in opening Detroit's first African American hospital in 1917.

Opened mostly because the doctors needed a place to care for patients who were too sick to return home, the hospital located at 73 Russell St. eventually contained 20 beds. Because of demand for care, the hospital soon outgrew this limited space and relocated to 688 Winder St. This property was finally demolished to make way for the construction of the I-75 expressway.

There were pressures to close the hospital at this point, but the Northcrosses took the $400,000 they made selling the Windner property and built a new 50-bed facility at 2929 W. Boston. Pressure from Blue Cross forced the hospital to convert to a methadone clinic, and then an abortion clinic. Before a final conversion to a mental health facility, it was firebombed.

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Mount Lebanon Hospital (1950-1968)

Founder:
Clarence W. Preston, M.D.

Location:
2610 S. 14th Street


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Parkside Hospital

Parkside Hospital
Detroit, Michigan (1928-1962)

Founders:
Drs. Robert Greenidge; DeWitt T. Burton; Henry Owen; Canute Constable; Julius Graham; W.A. Thompson; Alexander Turner; Alfred Thomas Sr.
Location:
Brush and Illinois (54 beds)

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In an attempt to compete with majority hospitals and to change the perception of health care in the African American community, Dunbar Hospital relocated across from Harper Hospital and changed its name to Parkside.

Spearheading the activity was Dr. Robert Greenidge. Following an incident where Dr. Greenidge experienced racism first-hand at the Florence Crittenton Home (a maternity facility), Greenidge felt it necessary to help the African American community organize itself and capitalize upon its strengths.

Parkside was intent on establishing itself as a respected provider of health care services. However, the only patients ever sent there from Harper Hospital were those considered to be terminal. Parkside had the reputation as "the place to go when you die," but the hospital itself finally succumbed to pressures to vacate. The hospital was torn down in 1962 to make room for the expansion of Detroit Receiving Hospital and the general development of the Detroit Medical Center.

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St. Aubin General Hospital (1931-c. 1947)

Founder:
Ossian Sweet, M.D.

Location:
St. Aubin and Maple


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Sidney A. Sumby Memorial Hospital

Sidney A. Sumby Memorial Hospital
River Rouge, MI (1938-1987)

(a.k.a. Milton Community Hospital)

Founders:
Dr. Samuel B. Milton

Locations:
Visger Rd. and Palmerston St., River Rouge, MI
1938 (20 beds); 1950 (40 beds);
1956 (80 beds); 1962 (100 beds)

The hospital was founded in 1938 by Dr. Samuel B. Milton, a native of Washington, D. C. who earned his M.D. degree from Northwestern University and later became Wayne County coroner. The facility was named in honor of his late brother-in-law, also a physician, who died shortly after establishing his practice in Saginaw, MI. The hospital grew from its original 20-bed capacity to encompass a drug store, dental offices and four clinics. In 1954, Mr. Herman J. Glass Sr., the hospital's administrator, initiated a two-year general practice residency program. The residency program was fully accredited by the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association and the American Academy of General Practice. The hospital became known as Milton Community Hospital before it closed in April, 1987.

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Southwest Detroit Hospital, Detroit, Michigan (1974-1991)

Founder:
A merger of Boulevard General, Burton Mercy, Trumbull, and Delray Hospitals (Trumbull and Delray were not African American hospitals)

Location:
2401 20th Street (246 beds)


Newly constructed at a cost of $21 million dollars, this 246-bed capacity general hospital opened in 1974 following the merger of four smaller Detroit area hospitals: Boulevard General, Burton Mercy, Delray General, and Trumbull General. It was located in the southwestern part of Detroit at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and 20th Street. The hospital was established with the goal of maintaining a high-quality facility in the community. Serving mainly Latino and African Americans, as well as many people with limited financial resources, the hospital succeeded in preserving the tradition of Detroit's African American proprietary hospitals-providing health care for those who did not have adequate access to it. The reign of the African American owned and operated hospitals in Detroit ended in 1991 when the hospital closed its doors due to the "integration" of the health care system, misconceptions, and fiscal pressures.

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Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital

Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital Detroit, MI
(1937-1965)

Founder:
Dr. Alfred E. Thomas Sr.

Location:
556 East Garfield
1937 (50 beds; later expanded to 114 beds);
1950 (160 beds)

Founded by Dr. Alfred E. Thomas Sr. in June of 1937, Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital was dedicated in memory of his deceased daughter. Dr. Thomas Sr. received his M.D. degree from Meharry Medical College in 1903. He helped to organize the Allied/Detroit Medical Society in 1917 and was its first president until 1931.

The first of the two buildings comprising the hospital was a three-story structure devoted to the care of medical and obstetrical cases. The second building opened in December, 1937.

It had two floors, with an outpatient clinic on the second floor, and was intended exclusively for the care of surgical cases. It had an operating room, X-ray room, laboratory, and sterilizing room. The clinic was equipped with 15 beds for those needing temporary institutionalization. Edyth K. Thomas Hospital admitted 1,568 patients during its first fiscal year. By 1950 it had the capacity to service 58 general patients and 102 psychiatric patients. Dr. Alf Thomas, Sr. was a founder or co-founder of at least five of Detroit's African American Hospitals. Edyth K. Thomas Hospital closed in 1965.

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Trinity Hospital

Trinity Hospital
Detroit, Michigan (1934-1962)

Founders:
Dr W. Harold Johnson; Dr. Frank Raiford, Jr.;
Dr. Chester C. Ames
Location:
E. Congress and DuBois  (1934)
681 E. Vernor - 140 beds (1942)
Detroit, Michigan

Trinity Hospital may be best known for its postgraduate surgical training and residency program for African American physicians, and as Detroit's first African American hospital to operate a cancer detection center. At the time, there was a need not only for the housing and treatment of the ill, but for the training and guidance of the African American medical community. Included among some of its pioneering procedures were deep X-ray therapy for treating cancer and physiotherapy. Trinity
Hospital sought to grow as a training facility and as an institution of excellence until its closing and relocation as Boulevard General Hospital to West Grand Boulevard.

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Wayne Diagnostic Hospital

Wayne Diagnostic Hospital
Detroit, Michigan (1939-1949)

Founders:
Drs. DeWitt Burton and Chester Ames

Locations:
271 Eliot between John R. and Brush
1939 - (34 beds); 1945 - (67 beds)   

Like so many other African American physicians who migrated to Detroit during the 1920s and 1930s, Drs. DeWitt Burton (Meharry, m '21) and Chester Ames (Wayne University, m '26) were committed, in the face of intense discrimination, to providing additional space for attending to the health care needs of African Americans. They formed a partnership and established a hospital with a 34-bed capacity. In addition to the general hospital, there was a mental health facility located across the street (Wayne Diagnostic II). There were 96 beds between the two facilities.

The popularity and strength of Wayne Diagnostic grew as physicians sought out one of the "best" medical facilities with which they were permitted to affiliate. Shortly after the death of Dr. Ames, Wayne Diagnostic Hospital was renamed Burton Mercy Hospital in 1949.

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Contact George Myers at gmyers@umich.edu if you have photos or information pertaining to the history of these hospitals.

Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
Text and images may not be used without the permission of the Kellogg African American Health Care Project.
For information regarding reproduction permission please write: Kellogg African American Health Care Project, University of Michigan, 300 N. Ingalls Building, RM 3D019, Box 0489, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109-0489; or phone (734) 647-6918.