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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Honoring Dr. King with Service

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I grew up in a time when there was a threat of weapons of mass destruction, an unpopular war in a far-away country, economic uncertainty, and violence amongst our people. I was influenced, as a child, by John F. Kennedy, who as President dared us to do what we could only dream.

Martin Luther King, Jr.As the years have passed, I am now more greatly influenced by another noble man, the most eloquent and articulate spokesman of peace and justice and one of the most courageous Americans of our time: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

He dared us to dream of what we could collectively be. His messages are as vibrant, powerful and meaningful today as they were nearly 50 years ago.

His life has special impact for me and every American, for he helped to free us of the illusion that we can somehow lift ourselves up by holding others down.

He filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lives by its noblest principles.

He spoke to me when he preached that the yoke of oppression shackled the oppressor as well as the oppressed. He realized that oppression was more the result of a culture afraid of change than the result of hatred, and that the hearts and minds of well-intentioned moderates were more important to change than the actions of extremists.

He knew that a country could not truly be great when it did not live by its professed values, nor could any country truly be free when any of its people were not provided the freedoms and opportunities of the most privileged.

This was the same American dream that my Grandparents sought when they came to this country almost 100 years ago. Continue reading

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2-Year Anniversary, Part 1: Celebrating What We’ve Accomplished


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Doc in the B (Beijing)

One of the great opportunities presented to us as a world class hospital and system are the multiple requests for us to share our knowledge and expertise around the country and the world.

Our international reputation has brought delegations from many countries to learn about our institution and to use that knowledge to improve care in their own environments.

Several months ago, a team from Wuxi, China visited Henry Ford Hospital and Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital to see how we approached our clinical care, wellness and general services. They had interest in developing facilities similar to ours and wanted to see firsthand the “Henry Ford Experience.”

In turn, several of us were invited to China to experience the health care system there, and better provide them with our opinions in how to transform lives and communities.

Before you say what a great little junket this was, I will let you know that three of us left on a Monday morning (after waiting eight hours at Metro Airport, only to have the flight delayed until the next morning), flew to Shanghai non-stop, traveled to Wuxi, flew to Beijing for one day, flew back to Shanghai (after waiting four hours due to a cancelled flight), got four hours sleep, flew to Tokyo and then back to the “D.”

I truly wasn’t sure if I was coming or going, and the jet lag seemed to last for the next week.

That being said, we established some great relationships, learned a great deal about health care in China and how this care is evolving.

All of this helps us to understand what our role can be in providing health care to our patients from the region, State, country, and beyond.

We had the opportunity to shoot a bit of video footage to give you a flavor of our trip, which is posted above.

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The Happiness Advantage

Jack Butler, Surgical Imagineer in the Department of Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, emailed me after hearing me talk about the importance of patient centeredness.

Jack wrote: “I am lucky often to be allowed to slip in and listen to the adults talking. Your insight that the various interviewees never brought up the patients – the center of our world – made me think about how do we get off track and, how do we get back on. I chose to be a happy person. It made me smarter. Enjoy this and always start with a chart.”

In Jack’s email was a link to the above video. The TEDx talk in the video is by Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc., where he researches and teaches about positive psychology.

What an entertaining and enlightening talk. I would like to share with you some of the points made.

Our positivity or negativity is the lens that our brain uses to view the world and shapes our reality. Often times we assume that the external world or successes determine our positivity or happiness.

Studies have demonstrated that if one knows everything about an individual’s external world, you can only predict the individual’s level of happiness by 10%. The vast majority of the time, the way your brain processes the world determines our level of happiness.

Studies have also shown a strong correlation of positivity leading to success.

Some of these studies suggest that whereas 25% of success is associated with intelligence or talent level, 75% is determine by positivity (Horn and Arbuckle, 1988) or happiness, optimal levels of social support, and ability to see stress as a challenge not a threat (Estrada, Isen, and Young, 1997).

Many of us, me included, have all been taught that if we work harder, we will be more successful, and, if we are more successful, we will be happier. This is likely incorrect. Continue reading

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Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Henry Ford Hospital was honored today (Jan. 16) to host a great celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., not only for the man, but the vision and principles that he continues to inspire in all of us.

The Mosaic Singers perform at Henry Ford Hospital.

This site on West Grand Blvd. has been the home of the Henry Ford Health System for more than 96 years. It houses our flagship, Henry Ford Hospital, a great clinical and academic sciences center in the heart of Midtown Detroit.

One of the reasons we’ve been able to achieve such prominence at Henry Ford is evident each day on our campus; the rich tapestry of our diverse work force is a fundamental advantage in the way in which we conduct our work and view the world around us.

You can see it every day in our hallways, emergency rooms, clinics and operating rooms; individuals within our team working together, as a unit, for one common cause: to restore the health and wellness of those we have the privilege to serve.

We’re far more than just a health care facility; we’re an economic engine for the City of Detroit and a beacon of hope for many of those who have been at disadvantage by financial shackles. Continue reading

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One Year

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Frida Kahlo and Henry Ford Hospital

Since I started writing this blog in November 2010, I’ve covered a great deal of topics related to The Henry Ford Hospital, our patients and our employees, as well as my role as President and CEO.

It’s all been about what’s happening NOW and where we’re headed in the future.

But today I want to take a step back in time, so to speak, to take a closer look at – and even offer some new insight into – an important piece of our nearly 96-year history and Detroit’s rich Hispanic community.

I’m sure many of you have visited the Detroit Institute of Arts and viewed one of its most esteemed (and at times controversial) pieces – Detroit Industry.

Between 1932 and 1933, Mexican painter Diego Rivera was commissioned by Edsel Ford, the son of auto pioneer and our hospital’s founder, Henry Ford, to complete this famous series of 27 fresco panels.

This project also had another significant tie to Henry Ford Hospital: Diego Rivera’s wife and fellow artist, Frida Kahlo. Frida suffered a miscarriage while in Detroit with her husband, and she was hospitalized at Henry Ford Hospital.

The experience inspired Frida to paint one of her most recognized pieces, aptly named Henry Ford Hospital.

But there’s more to this story.

Continue reading

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Dr. King: A Legacy of Inspiration

For those of us in health care, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words of social justice and serving have special meaning.

Dr. King stated, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”  The national debate about health care over the last several years has greatly focused attention on this inequality.

Many would debate whether health care is a right or a privilege. 

 I am not an interpreter of the Constitution.  I am a physician, health care administrator, and concerned citizen who sees the failure of the health care system every day.  

Patients, for want of access to primary care, are falling through the cracks of fragmented and disjointed care. They end up in emergency departments or hospitals for the more expensive treatment of diseases whose progress could have been prevented by earlier and simpler interventions. 

This disproportionately affects certain Americans because of inadequate access and socioeconomic factors.  That is why I hope to achieve access to basic health care for all Americans. 

Continue reading

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