George Gaines
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George Gaines Jr.

Clinical/Medical Social Worker

Wayne County Health Department


Arthur W Boddie

Mr. George Gaines Jr. was born on January 24, 1930 in Biloxi, Mississippi. His father, George, migrated to Detroit around 1929 from New Orleans. His mother, Mildred Pollard Gaines, followed her husband to Detroit shortly before his birth.

Mr. Gaines Jr. graduated from Northwestern High School in 1949 and began his college career at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. After a year, he transferred to Wayne University and received his bachelor's degree in 1953. He enrolled in Detroit College of Law, but was drafted into the Army and served until 1955.

Mr. Gaines Jr. returned to Detroit and began working in insurance sales. A year later he started working as a caseworker for the Children's Aid Society for a year and a half.

After that he worked as a social investigator for Wayne County and enrolled in the School of Social Work at Wayne State University. He earned his master's degree in 1963. From 1964 through 1965, Mr. Gaines Jr. worked as a psychiatric social worker at Wayne County General Hospital. He left that position to become a medical social worker at Herman Kiefer Hospital and worked on an experimental project aimed at moving the treatment of tuberculosis from inpatient to ambulatory care.

Currently, Mr. Gaines Jr. is a private consultant and teaches in the School of Social Work at Wayne State University.

He is a member of the Association of Black Social Workers, the National Association of Black Social Workers, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He has also worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Tape recorded interview;
Detroit, MI
20 August  1998
audio clip

(The following excerpt is from George Gaines Jr., a Medical Social Worker for the City of Detroit during the 1960s and 1970s, who spoke about the political implications of the bed reduction plan in Detroit during the early 1970s.)

“In the early 1970s, at the macro level, the power and influence for hospitals was and is the Greater Detroit Area Hospital Association, which is a trade association for hospitals subsisting on government grants and United Foundation money. In addition, they, in their wisdom, determined that there were too many hospitals. That Detroit was over-bedded. And that the over-bedding ran the cost of health care up because we had beds that were vacant. And you had to pay for those beds, because of overhead. And they had study after study to establish that Detroit was way over-bedded and that Detroit needed to cut back on the number of hospital beds. Their design was to close these small hospitals. Their general principle was to consolidate hospitals and to close them. Consolidate, then cut back on the number of beds. But, at the macro level, it was this Greater Detroit Area Hospital Association and the Wayne State University Department of Community Medicine who determined that Detroit was over-bedded. And from my point of view, it has to be a political power situation. Those who had the power retained the beds; those who did not have the power lost the beds. Nobody was concerned about Henry Ford Hospital. Plus, at the macro level, the federal government was interested in, being a payer, the over-bedded situation and, remember, they passed comprehensive health legislation. And that's when the certificate of need started. It began to show that the government would have more and more influence on the shape and size of health care systems because they were a major payer. The black hospitals fell victim to that federal-local shrinking, consolidating of the health care system. It was clearly based on the power situation. Fortunately, self-interest of black professionals, especially doctors, got established in Detroit—that there is such a thing as a black hospital and that a black hospital is black owned; the board is majority black—and got dispensations on giving up beds, which is the only thing that saved Southwest Detroit Hospital. I mean they would have wiped that out. I mean the black hospitals would have been completely wiped out. The black members on the Comprehensive Health Planning Council of Southeast Michigan, which oversaw the certificate of need process, established that there is such a thing as a traditional black hospital and it serves a unique role. Otherwise, they would have been wiped out completely. But basically, from the macro level, there was the federal government, the state government—the payers—and they would say shrink. That's just my point.”


William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young


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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.