Driving Innovation (and an Electric Car) in Detroit

When I last met up with Frank Venegas, we were at the Detroit Institute of Arts talking about Frida Kahlo and her ties to Frank’s family, as well as Henry Ford Hospital.

Henry Ford Hospital also has something else in common with Frank and his company, Ideal Group:  a focus on innovation in Detroit.

One of Ideal Group’s customers, General Motors, is responsible for creating one of the bigger innovations to recently come out of Detroit – the Chevy Volt, a plug-in, range-extended electric vehicle with an on-board gasoline generator.

Not only did Frank show support for GM’s innovation by buying two Chevy Volts, he’s also been documenting his driving experience on his blog, “Frank’s V in the D.”

Frank’s even been handing the key fob (no keys needed for the Volt) to business colleagues in Detroit, giving them the chance to test-drive this game-changing product.

I recently had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of Frank’s Volt. (And, yes, it does comfortably seat someone taller than 6 ft.)

I thought that one of the best ways to really test the car’s electric charge and gas mileage – and continue the conversation about innovation – was to drive to a few Henry Ford sites in and around Detroit, where innovation is changing how we care for our patients.

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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.

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