Reginald P. Ayala
Kirwood, Boulevard General, and Southwest Detroit
Born to Puerto Rican, Peter Ayala, and Jamaican immigrant,
Gladys Triffina Ayala, on September 7, 1931, Mr. Reginald P. Ayala grew up in Brooklyn,
New York. Following his graduation from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1950, Mr. Ayala
attended Michigan State University on an athletic scholarship as the first African
American basketball player in the school's history. He graduated from Michigan State
University in 1954 with an undergraduate degree in hotel management.
Following his graduation, Mr. Ayala traveled extensively while
playing professional basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters from December, 1954 to May,
1955. His career as a professional basketball player was interrupted when he signed a two
year commitment with the primary Air Force in May, 1955. Prior to leaving the military, in
1957, Mr. Ayala was trained and licensed as a pilot. He returned to the Harlem
Globetrotters shortly after his discharge from the military, but quit for good after only
a couple of months when offered a job as an instructor with the City of Detroit Department
of Parks and Recreation.
In 1959, pursuing a lead from a college classmate, Mr.
Ayala interviewed with Dr. Guy O. Saulsberry at Kirwood Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. As
the hospital's Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ayala guided Kirwood
Hospital through a period of great growth, expanding the facility from 50 to 160 beds. He
also guided Kirwood Hospital in its drive to attain full accreditation by the Joint
Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.
In 1970, Mr. Ayala became
involved in the development of the Southwest Detroit
Hospital. This hospital was the result of a four-way
merger, which included two large, predominantly black
institutions: Boulevard General Hospital and Burton
Mercy Hospital, and two smaller community hospitals:
Delray General Hospital and Trumbull General Hospital.
Certified, financed, and promoted by the Greater Detroit
Area Hospital Planning Council, the merger resulted
in the construction of the Southwest Detroit Hospital,
a 244 bed institution built from the ground up on Michigan
Avenue at the intersection of 23rd Street.
The hospital opened in 1974 as a community hospital
committed to serving the population of Southwest Detroit.
Following a steady decline in occupancy, the Southwest
Detroit Hospital closed its doors in December, 1991,
at which time Mr. Reginald Ayala retired from hospital
administration. Mr. Ayala, a man of courage,
dignity and faith, died Thursday, Feb. 3, 2000, at Sinai-Grace
Hospital in Detroit.
|Tape recorded interview;
1 July 1997
Reginald Ayala, who served as the chief executive
officer of Kirwood General Hospital from 1959 -
1970 and chief executive officer of Southwest Detroit
Hospital from 1970 - 1991 explains the role of the
Detroit Area Health Planning Council and provided
justification to the council during the certificate-of-need
review and accreditation process needed for the
expansion of Kirwood General Hospital from a 50-bed
hospital to a 160-bed hospital."
The primary purpose of the Health Planning Committee
of the Detroit Area Hospital Planning Council was to
certify hospitals in terms of their need, and obviously
the main thrust was in the area of the existence--justifying
their existence. And my theme was presented on the fact
that it was a converted hospital--that it was relocating
in an over-bedded area, that at the time of its initial
applications it was unaccredited, its financial resources
were very limited, and it was my thrust to show them
the need to expand. And the need to expand was primarily
very obvious because of the segregation in hospital
facilities in the Detroit Area. And my justification
was based on discrimination--a predominantly African-American
institution was very definitely needed and my thrust
was based on the need, justifying the need.