“Back to the Future” Part 3

In the final segment of our three-part vodcast series on the history of Henry Ford Hospital and Health System, HFHS CEO Nancy Schlichting and I discuss what’s ahead for Henry Ford and our goals for the future.

Undoubtedly, we believe our rich history will continue to inspire the future at Henry Ford – through cutting-edge medical innovations and collaborative partnerships, to our deep commitment to the city we’ve called home for 100 years, in good times and often challenging times.

Henry Ford stood with Detroit for 100 years and has proudly been a part of its resurrection – not only as a provider and beacon for what’s good about health care institutions, but also as a very strong economic engine to the city.

We certainly have a lot to look forward to as we look back on our incredible history in celebration of Henry Ford’s 100 Year Anniversary. Continue reading

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“Back to the Future” Part 2

In the second part of my three-part vodcast interview with Henry Ford Health System CEO Nancy Schlichting, we continue our discussion about the history of Henry Ford by taking a closer look the first physicians and nurses at Henry Ford Hospital.

Nancy and I talk about the formation of the Henry Ford Medical Group and the evolution of physician education and training, as well as our first physicians at Henry Ford Hospital – Physician-in-Chief Dr. Frank Sladen and Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Roy McClure.

We again highlight Clara Ford’s important influence during the hospital’s formative years, and her great belief in the caring nature of nursing and its pivotal role in the medical care provided to patients.

She was a driving force in developing the School of Nursing on the hospital campus in 1925. Continue reading

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The Cornerstone of Henry Ford Hospital

When Henry Ford took control of the stalled Detroit General Hospital project in 1914, he was left with an incomplete building on the hospital campus. It was an empty shell with no windows, battered by Michigan’s harsh weather.

The unfinished Patient Services Building, c. 1914. (From the Conrad R. Lam Collection, Henry Ford Health System. ID=01-014)

The unfinished Patient Services Building, c. 1914. (From the Conrad R. Lam Collection, Henry Ford Health System. ID=01-014)

Regardless, Ford was determined to complete the building and assigned the task to his personal secretary Ernest G. Liebold, who became the hospital’s first chief administrator.

With no previous hospital experience, Leibold set out to bring in new architects and quickly finish the facility, and to plan the future.

The original hospital building was very small; it was only designed to house 90 beds.

Liebold was concerned the hospital would fail to meet the great health care needs of the city – or be able to operate in the black – with so few beds, especially since the on-campus power plant, service building and kitchen were capable of serving a hospital of 500.

Prior to completion of the first patient care building, patients were admitted to an open ward in the basement of the current “M” unit, which was to become the private-room building of Henry Ford Hospital.

As you may recall from a prior Doc in the D blog post on this topic, most patients admitted to the basement ward were afflicted with a variety of substance abuse issues, many with serious consequences of narcotics. The first such patient was admitted on July 13, 1915.

On Oct. 1, 1915 the hospital beds in the private-room building of Henry Ford Hospital was completed. The first patient admitted had a diagnosis of erysipelas of the upper extremity, essentially a bacterial infection of the soft tissues. Continue reading

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“Back to the Future”

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Henry Ford Health System CEO Nancy Schlichting about one of my favorite topics: The History of Henry Ford Hospital and Henry Ford Health System.

As many of you may know, Nancy regularly produces vodcasts for our employees and physicians, discussing with special guests a wide variety of topics related to our System and the health care industry.

In honor of our 100th anniversary this year, Nancy decided to kick off her 2015 vodcast series by going back in time to 1915, when Henry Ford Health System started as Henry Ford Hospital.

In the first of a three-part vodcast, Nancy and I look back to the early 1900s in Detroit, not too long before Henry Ford took over the Detroit General Hospital to support the increasing population in the city of Detroit.

We even talk about Clara Ford’s great influence on her husband Henry’s ideas about health and the approaches that needed to be taken to support the health of individuals in Detroit.


Come back next week for the second part of the vodcast, where Nancy and I continue our discussion about Henry Ford Health System’s 100-Year Anniversary.

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Dr. King Inspired Groundbreaking Work at Henry Ford

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person for yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year marks the 15th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Henry Ford Hospital.

It’s become an important tradition for us each year to take time to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. King – his words, rhetoric and actions. It’s truly one of the greatest days that we have here on campus.

The Mosiac Singers with the Mosiac Youth Theatre of Detroit gave an amazing performance at the event.

The Mosiac Singers with the Mosiac Youth Theatre of Detroit gave an amazing performance at the event.

Dr. King inspired a nation and he influenced much of the groundbreaking work in racial relations and equality accomplished in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s at Henry Ford Hospital. 

Throughout our history there have been many employees who have made a “career out of humanity” at Henry Ford.

In honor of Dr. King’s legacy, I want to share with you some of the individuals and groups who hold a special place in our hospital’s history for moving ahead the cause of equality:

After completing high school in the 1950s, Dennis Archer moved to Detroit to find work to finance his college education. He wanted to become a school teacher.

While working to achieve his goal, former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer held many jobs; one of which made history at Henry Ford Hospital.

He became the first African American to work in the medical records department at Henry Ford Hospital.

Before Dr. King arrived in Detroit in 1963 to give a version of his “I Have a Dream” speech and lead 25,000 people on a peaceful “Walk to Freedom,” the “Fordsmen” were working to create a more harmonious work environment at Henry Ford Hospital. Continue reading

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The First Wave of Physicians: Building a World-Class Hospital Staff

“If the hospital was to be supported by Mr. Ford and bear his name, it ought to be run differently than any other hospital.… The other hospitals to my mind were operated largely as a boarding house for the doctors’ patients. While they had members of their own staff, they were men who didn’t contribute actively toward the policy of the institution. It seemed the most prominent outside doctors were the ones who had the most to say in running the institution. That contributed largely to internal politics and things of that sort.

“I didn’t feel we ought to have that in any institution Mr. Ford had anything to do with.”

  • Ernest Liebold, from the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, and quoted in the book, “Henry Ford Health System: A 100 Year Legacy”

When Henry Ford took control of the stalled Detroit General Hospital project in 1914, his name was synonymous with innovation: mass production, the moving assembly line and the $5 work day at Ford Motor Company.

The first Henry Ford Hospital staff. From left, first row (both shoes visible): Dr. Charles H. Watt, Dr. Frank J. Sladen, Dr. Roy D. McClure, Ernest G. Liebold, John N.E. Brown, and Dr. F. Janney Smith. Back row: Dr. John K. Ormond, unknown, Dr. Russell Haden, Dr. David R. Murchison, and Dr. Irvin L. Barclay. c. 1916 (Detail from the Conrad R. Lam Collection, Henry Ford Health System. ID=01.011.)

The first Henry Ford Hospital staff. From left, first row (both shoes visible): Dr. Charles H. Watt, Dr. Frank J. Sladen, Dr. Roy D. McClure, Ernest G. Liebold, John N.E. Brown, and Dr. F. Janney Smith. Back row: Dr. John K. Ormond, unknown, Dr. Russell Haden, Dr. David R. Murchison, and Dr. Irvin L. Barclay. c. 1916 (Detail from the Conrad R. Lam Collection, Henry Ford Health System. ID=01.011.)

It’s no surprise that a hospital bearing his name would be rooted in new ideas, making it different from other hospitals of the time, even if some those innovative ideas – including a closed medical group and standardized patient fees – were initially met with sharp criticism in the medical community.

As would be expected, Mr. Ford strongly influenced the concept for the staff of Henry Ford Hospital, but he had no significant knowledge as where to find the physicians that were essential to fulfill his ideas.

That is where the influence of Johns Hopkins was so vital in the formative years of the hospital and had direct impact on the subsequent mission of the organization.

One must remember that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, many medical schools were apprenticeships with minimal formal curriculum and training. These medical schools were often privately owned by a few physicians and were merely two-year trade schools.

This was a time of “quacks” and “quackery,” which greatly affected the respect of the profession and the benefit that medicine could uniformly provide to the population. Continue reading

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2015: A Year for Transformation

TRANSFORM (verb): to change (something) completely and usually in a good way; to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.

NYcard_frontEach year that I’ve been President and CEO of Henry Ford Hospital, I’ve made it a tradition to send my colleagues and my team a New Year’s card with a very special message.

While I was not able to send my card for 2015 to all of you, I wanted to share with each of you my hopes for the New Year.

Our centennial year will one in which Henry Ford Hospital and the Health System continue to perform our transformational work in the delivery of health care.

We have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on our economic development work in transforming our campus and immediate community.

But my sincerest hope is that each of you take 2015 to transform yourself and those around you, in the ways that provide each of you the greatest fulfillment.

Below is my New Year’s card, which I now share with you.

Happy New Year!


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Cross-Border Collaboration Summit

One of Henry Ford’s best-known quotes is the following: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

Those words still hold true today.

His quote speaks to the importance of building relationships and identifying opportunities for collaboration; not just within our System but by working with other organizations within health care, our city and beyond.

Cross-Border Summit

The Cross-Border Summit was held in the Henry Ford Innovation Institute.

Working together is where you find success – and opportunity.

Such an opportunity arose with the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in Ontario, Canada.

I have been working to develop collaborative opportunities in clinical care, education, research and innovation with our colleagues “south of the border,” down Canada way.

In prior blogs, I have written about the great work being done to provide support for certain clinical situations with hospitals and providers in Essex County.

After conversations with hospitals, educators, and private and governmental officials, we all felt there were many additional areas of work to consider, leveraging the resources and talents we have collectively.

In parallel with the work we had been doing, the remarkable dean of the Schulich School of Medicine, Dr. Michael Strong, and his leadership team took this concept one step further and extended their outreaching global initiatives to cross border work with Detroit.

This led to Henry Ford. Continue reading

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Henry Ford Hospital’s First Physician-in-Chief

“The great need of the world has always been for leaders. With more leaders we could have more industry. More industry, more employment and comfort for all.”
– Henry Ford

Leaders define an industry, rise to the challenge, create a path where there is none, and leave a great mark, a lasting legacy that inspires generations.

Dr. Frank Sladen

From the Conrad R. Lam Collection, Henry Ford Health System. ID=01-013

Dr. Frank J. Sladen was such a leader; for nearly 60 years he was an invaluable member of the Henry Ford Hospital staff, not only as a physician, but also as a medical educator, scholar, and administrator.

Dr. Sladen was Henry Ford Hospital’s “first” physician and most notably its first physician-in-chief, appointed by Henry Ford himself in 1915.

But his medical career in Detroit began several years beforehand, when Detroit General Hospital – which would become Henry Ford Hospital in 1915 – was in its infancy.

He was recruited to Detroit General Hospital by Dr. Carl R. Meloy and Dr. William F. Metcalf from Johns Hopkins after serving as Resident in Medicine and Associate Professor of Medicine under renowned physician, Professor Sir William Osler.

“The new hospital, the Detroit General, will be by far the best thing in Detroit, and though comparatively small in the beginning is ideally planned and will be founded upon ideal principles,” Dr. Meloy wrote to Dr. Sladen in 1911. Continue reading

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Bridging the Work-Life Balance in Midtown

We’ve all been here: You leave the hospital after a long day of work and think, “my day’s not even close to being over yet.”

You’re running on low energy and still have to stop to get an oil change, look into a new doggie daycare and set-up a birthday dinner for a friend – and don’t forget the gift!

Midtown Concierge Office at HFH

Monica Sanders and Laurie Walker are ready to help you in the Midtown Concierge office in the hospital.

With our very busy work and personal lives, we all could use an extra hand in getting things done each day.

Recognizing that our hospital employees need a healthy work-life balance to be able to deliver the best possible care to our patients and their families, we’ve been working on special program for a while to help make life a little easier.

We’ve partnered with Midtown Detroit, Inc. and Balance Concierge to create Midtown Concierge, a service that works with local Midtown and City of Detroit businesses to provide goods and services to Henry Ford Hospital campus employees, often at a discounted rate.

Through Balance Concierge, Midtown Concierge offers personal assistance to hospital employees for routine tasks that often seem overwhelming when combined with a busy work and personal life.

This new pilot program is an in-house concierge service available at no fee to HFH Campus employees; you only pay for the items or services requested.

For those who follow Doc in the D, the concept of Midtown Concierge might sound familiar. Continue reading

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