Brief History of African American Hospital in Detroit

When white hospitals refused to hire black nurses; segregated its black patients in separate wings; refused to allow Black doctors to perform surgery and required Black doctors to consult with White doctors before admitting patients; black doctors started a tradition of opening their own hospitals. Detroit would be home to not only the most hospitals dedicated to black patients, but also showcase the most owned by African Americans. In Detroit, and other cities with large black populations, quite a few African-American physicians either started their own hospitals or joined with their black colleagues to purchase large Victorian homes that served as a hospital. 

Dunbar Memorial Hospital was one of the first Black Hospitals to open in the city of Detroit. It was opened in 1918 by 30 members of the Allied Medical Society, an organization formed by African-American doctors angry with their white counterpart’s treatment. The hospital would expand form 27 beds to 40 beds in 1924 and would open Detroit’s first school of Nursing for black women. After World War II, small independent hospitals began to disappear. They could not offer the services, nor were they as well equipped as modern large hospitals. With the emergence of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960’s, the financing of health care changed fundamentally. With federal funding came new standards that few small hospitals could satisfy. 

Southwest General Hospital was the last of the Black owned hospitals to close. Opened in 1974, when four smaller hospitals merged (Boulevard General, Burton Mercy, Delray General and Trumbull General), it would last only 16 years. Southwest General Hospital was a 246 bed facility and was built at a total cost of $21 million. The Hospital closed its doors in 1991. 

Below is a list of other African American owned and operated hospitals that closed their doors: 

Southwest Detroit Hospital (2401 20th Street) 1974-1991 

Trumbull General (3966 Trumbull) closed in 1974 

Boulevard General (1852 West Grand Blvd) 1960-1974 

Burton Mercy (271 Eliot) 1949-1974 

Delray General (7125 W. Jefferson) closed in 1974 

Baily General Hospital (292 E. Ferry) 1970-1974 

Mount Lebanon Hospital (2610 S. 14th Street) 1950-1958 

Haynes Memorial Hospital (73 E. Palmer) 1950-1967 

Kirwood General Hospital (301 E. Kirby) 1943-1974 

Wayne Diagnostic Hospital (271 Eliot) 1939-1949 

Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital (556 E. Garfield) 1937-1965 

Trinity Hospital (681 E. Vernor) 1934-1962 

Bethesda Hospital (544 East Garfield) 1931-1965 

Fairview Sanatorium (441 E. Ferry) 1931-1960 

St. Aubin General Hospital (St. Aubin/Maple) 1931-1947 

Good Samaritan Hospital (503 E. Palmer) 1929-1966 

Parkside Hospital (Brush and Illinois) 1927-1962 

Dunbar Memorial Hospital (580 Frederick St.) 1918-1927 

Mercy General Hospital (2929 W. Boston Blvd) 1917-1976