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.
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