“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.)
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