Dr. David C. Northcross, Jr. was born
on January 29, 1917 to Drs. David and Daisy Northcross,
in Montgomery, Alabama. The Drs. Northcross had migrated
to Detroit in 1916 in order to escape the persecution
of the Ku Klux Klan.
being here only a year, they opened the first Black-owned
and operated proprietary hospital in Detroit, Mercy
General Hospital. Having grown up in such an environment,
there was never a question that David Northcross, Jr.
would become a doctor and help run the hospital founded
by his parents.
completing three years of his undergraduate education
at the University of Detroit, Dr. Northcross, Jr. went
to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Meharry Medical College
and took additional course work at Fisk University.
Following graduation from Meharry in 1944, he entered
an internship at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis,
Missouri. Following his internship, Dr. Northcross,
Jr. completed a year of residency at John Andrews Hospital
in Tuskegee, Alabama.
he was in the Medical Corps of the Army Specialized
Training Corps while a medical student during World
War II, with the outbreak of the Korean War, Dr. Northcross,
Jr. was called to serve again. He was stationed at Fort
Reilly, Kansas in 1953. When the Army invited him to
remain for a career in the service, Dr. Northcross,
Jr. chose to return to Detroit in 1955 to run Mercy
General with his wife, Ophelia Northcross, R.N., and
his mother, Dr. Daisy Northcross.
Dr. Northcross, Jr. attended the University of Pennsylvania
Medical School for a year of graduate work in surgery.
Upon his return to Detroit, he dedicated himself to
the administration of Mercy General, as his mother's
health was beginning to decline. Dr. Northcross, Jr.
oversaw the relocation of Mercy General Hospital from
the site on Winder Street to a brand new 50 bed facility
at 2929 West Boston, which was prompted by the construction
of the I-75 expressway.Eventually,
the hospital was converted a few times to ancillary
health clinics and closed in 1976.
Jr. was, during his practicing years, an active member
of the Detroit Medical Society and the National Medical
Association. He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
and has always been involved with the YMCA, as well
as with his church.
Dr. Northcross, Jr. is retired from practicing medicine
and spends his time with his daughters and other relatives
in Detroit and Atlanta.
Discusses his parent's hospital, Mercy General
What can you tell us, as far as what you remember, about
your parents' hospital? Because it was Mercy General,
They would get patients from Detroit General a lot.
They would transfer them to, like Mercy and [to Dr.]
Frank Raiford, [Jr.]-he was over on Vernor Highway [at
Trinity Hospital], you know. And then the black doctors
would come by and write orders and examine their patients
and everything. And the white doctors-mama had a couple
of white doctors who would come and see the patients.
And then some people off the street would come. And
some of the doctors, I can't remember exactly who, would
Were any white patients ever in the hospital?
for transfer from Detroit General [Hospital] when they
got over crowded. Yes, there were whites [there]. There
were a lot of whites in Detroit back then, in the 30s,
40s and 50s. Whites just started moving in the
50s when they started Southfield, see.
So, prior to your coming back, that is, while you were
growing up in Detroit, do you remember how many beds
the hospital had at Mercy [General]?
I think. And then, when I came back in the 50s,
I built a new addition to it. I moved the office. It
had a big glass front, you know. It was really sharp.
Everybody was driving by and looking at it. And I think
I added about 25 beds upstairs.