Our Patients in 1915

This week marks the beginning of Henry Ford Hospital’s 100th year of operation.

A few weeks ago, I was given a bound log book documenting the first 50 patients who were admitted to Henry Ford Hospital.

We had always acknowledged Oct. 1, 1915 as the first day of patients being admitted to Henry Ford.

This date is true for the actual completed hospital beds in the private-room building of Henry Ford Hospital, which today we call the “M” building.

Medical record log for Henry Ford Hospital's first documented patient.

Medical record log for Henry Ford Hospital’s first documented patient.

















A few patients, however, were actually admitted before that date to the basement area of the hospital in open ward converted space — among them, our first documented patient, a stock handler with chronic back and leg pain and a morphine addiction, who was admitted on July 13, 1915.

The medical records are quite impressive.

The same cursive writing of Henry Ford Hospital that we use today is noted at the top of each page.

The handwriting is meticulous, and clearly not written by a physician with deplorable handwriting, such as myself.

The patient descriptions were a bit more colorful and narrative, but containing information that you would assume present in a modern day record, prior to our EPIC installation.

Over the next year — as we head into our 100-year anniversary celebration — you will hear more about the history and the accomplishments of our great hospital.

I have spent a fair amount of time reading and learning about our evolution.

The one great constancy over the years is our people, committed to patient care and each other, teaming to form one of the best stories in American medicine.

To learn more about Henry Ford Hospital’s history, visit the Conrad R. Lam Archives online, the official archival repository of the Henry Ford Hospital and Henry Ford Health System, at www.henryford.com/archives.

Share Doc in the D:

12 thoughts on “Our Patients in 1915

  1. Thanks Dr Popovich for sharing some history of Henry Ford Hospital !
    I LOVE history and especially interesting history, I am an employee here and I love to see “old” pictures of our Hospital and the areas around the hospital before Detroit became a modern city. My mother just turned 100 years old on June 14, 2014 and she has a Henry Ford doctor !!

  2. This is fascinating! It brought up a couple questions, though, and prompted us to look up when diagnostic codes were first established (1893). I thought they were invented when health insurance emerged. Also, the patient was from Grand Rapids. Is he not only our first patient, but also our first outreach patient? I am looking forward to learning more about HFH history as the year of our centennial unfolds.

  3. I love history also. Interesting medical issue. I wonder how common morphine addiction was. What were the most common conditions people were treated for? Also how do the treatments compare to today? Wonder what the costs were in those days. Interesting that the patient was not a resident of Detroit but Grand Rapids. Wonder who this doctor was. More info please!

  4. amazed that the patient lived on ferris st. in Detroit. i wonder was it a house there or what? cant wait to find out more!

  5. Thank you for the great comments and your interest! Henry Ford Hospital has a rich history and you’ll be reading more about it on the blog leading up to our 100-year celebration. A quick note on our first documented patient: He was a Detroit resident; the Grand Rapids address listed above belongs to the patient’s nearest living relative/friend. Keep the comments and questions coming!

  6. Awesome story!! I wonder if his 5 day stay was typical at this time? I have read the book Henry Ford Hospital: The First 75 years by Painter (1993) and highly recommend it!

  7. What a rich medical heritage we have in Henry Ford Hospital! I learned nursing skills in the Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing and lived in Clara Ford Pavilion in the mid1960s. I am proud to have worked with so many great professionals and now to continue my nursing practice in this place. Thanks for reminding us of our history. I’m looking forward to the centennial celebration

  8. Very impressed that we were able to treat patients even before the hospital officially opened. It was very nice to read that article and Happy early Birthday to HFH!

  9. WOW! What a great story! Thank you for sharing! I am proud to be a part of something so amazing, and something that has been around for 100 years! I love learning the history of Detroit, and Henry Ford is such a huge part of that. Thanks again!

  10. I was hoping your “reporting” on HFH was just the beginning and I would be treated to further information on HFH history. Perhaps I need to go to the website provided in your essay above. Also, while I have you reading this, where can I get information on activities, gatherings, dinners etc celebrating the 100th Anniversary?

Comments are closed.