Summer 1998
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  Highlights   Inside
Black-Owned and Operated Hospitals in the Detroit Metropolitan Area during the 20th Century
Wayne Diagnostic Hospital -
Burton Mercy Hospital -
Kirwood General Hospital
DMS "Clinic Day" Conference
Project Update
Upcoming Issues
Summer Newsletter 1998
University of Michigan Medical School

The Archive

Documenting the Historical Experiences of African Americans in Southeastern Michigan with regard to Health Care, the Health Professions, and the Health Sciences
Black-Owned and Operated Hospitals
in the Detroit Metropolitan Area
during the 20th Century

Wayne Diagnostic Hospital,
Detroit, Michigan (1939-1949)

Wayne Diagnostic Hospital

DeWitt Burton, MD
Chester Ames, MD

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 1920's and 1930's, 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 from the hospital (Wayne Diagnostic II).  The combined bed capacity of both facilities was a total of 96 beds.

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.

Burton Mercy Hospital,
Detroit, Michigan (1949-1974)

Burton Mercy Hospital

DeWitt T. Burton, MD
Chester Ames, MD

271 Eliot:
1949-96 beds;
1952-150 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 a number of patient and staff support departments. 

Mrs. Alice Burton assisted Dr. Burton through each phase of the hospital's development by providing administrative support.

Kirwood General Hospital,
Detroit, Michigan (1943-1974)

Kirwood General Hospital

Dr. Guy O. Saulsberry

301 E. Kirby,

1943: 27 beds
two expansions 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 facility 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 of the 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 from its original location to W. Davison and Petosky. 

In 1967, Kirwood opened its new, well-equipped facility with 161 beds and 12 medical departments. After only 8 months, the hospital achieved three year accreditation.

Kirwood General Hospital 1967
Davison and Petosky location
161 beds

Two noteworthy legacies of Kirwood are that:  1) Kirwood was the site of some of the initial sickle-cell research conducted by Dr. Charles F. Whitten; and 2) the residual funds of  the hospital were, upon its closing, used to pay off the Dunbar Memorial Hospital Museum's mortgage.

1998 Detroit Medical Society
"Clinic Day" - Medicine in the New Millennium: Closing the Racial Healthcare Gap By 2010

George Myers
George Myers , Project Coordinator, at the Detroit Medical Society 's "Clinic Day", Cobo Hall, June 13, 1998

On Saturday, June 13, 1998, Kellogg Project Coordinator George Myers and Research Associate Ron Amos presented an historical exhibit displaying selected photos of Black-Owned and Operated Hospitals and Detroit Physicians.  The event was sponsored by the Detroit  and the Wolverine State Medical Societies. 

The conference  focused on reasons for the racial healthcare gap and acknowledged the important role of Black medical schools in the next century.  Representatives from the four historically Black medical colleges (Meharry, Howard, Drew, and Morehouse) and the former Surgeon General, Louis Sullivan, MD made formal presentations.

Kellogg Project National Conference

Dr. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit

The Kellogg African American Health Care Project will host a national conference  on the historical and policy implications of our work, as well as the present state of black health care and blacks in the health sciences.   The conference will be held on February 26, 1999 at the  Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit,  Michigan.

Upcoming Issues
The fall quarterly newsletter will feature 3 more of the seventeen Black-owned and operated hospitals in the Detroit Metropolitan area during this century, along with project updates.   We welcome your comments and suggestions. 

George Myers,
Project Coordinator
300 North Ingalls Building,
Room 3D019
Ann Arbor, MI  48109

web address:

Research Investigators

Norman L. Foster, M.D., Associate Professor, University of Michigan Medical School

Harold W. Neighbors, Ph.D.,  Professor, University of Michigan School of Public Health

Project Advisors

Vence Bonham, J.D.,
College of Human Medicine,
Michigan State University

Joel Howell, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, University of Michigan Medical School

Martin Pernick, Ph.D., Professor, History Dept.,
University of Michigan

Richard Candida Smith, Ph.D.,  Professor, History Dept., University of Michigan

Nicholas Steneck, Ph.D., Professor, History Dept.,
University of Michigan

Brian Williams, M.L.S., Associate Archivist, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

Kellogg Project Team

George Myers
Ron Amos
Amy Hawkins
Kristin Myers

!!!! Congratulations !!!!
Kristin Myers

Our student intern, Kristin Myers, leaves at the end of the summer to pursue her studies.  She has graduated from Ann Arbor Huron High School with honors, and will begin her college career at Michigan State University in the Fall.  We wish her well!!

Copyright Kellogg African American Health Care Project, University of Michigan, 2000.
Text and images may not be used without the permission of the Kellogg African American Health Care Project and the University of Michigan.