Reginald P. Ayala
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Reginald P. Ayala

Hospital Administrator

Kirwood, Boulevard General, and Southwest Detroit Hospitals

Reginald P. Ayala
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;
Detroit, MI
1 July 1997
audio clip
 “Mr. 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.”


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.