Posted on November 13, 2010


 Track For The Day:    What-Becomes-Of-The-Broken-Hearted_.mp3

Chicago is my home town. It’s where I was born and raised . I was born in a little Chicago hospital, known then as Provident Hospital, on the city’s south side.  Back then Provident hospital was referred to as the (Black) hospital. It was and is a landmark, a rock and at one time,  the only hospital where you could see a black doctor or black nurse and dare to want to be like them. 

Provident Hospital[2], the first Black-owned and operated hospital in America[3], was established in Chicago in 1891 by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams a Black American surgeon during the time in American history where few public or private medical facilities were open to Black citizens. Though the historic Provident Hospital was forced to close in 1987 due to financial difficulties, it reopened in 1993 as part of Cook County‘s Bureau of Health Services[4] to offer services to residents of Chicago’s south side. It is now known as Provident Hospital of Cook County. However, Provident Hospital has a very impressive and amazing history. (WIKIPEDIA BIOGRAPHY)

Many Chicago Generation X’ers, millennial and Generation Y’ers are not aware of the astounding history of Provident Hospital in Chicago. So let me enlighten you a little.

 Picture this; In a time when blacks could not vote, could not use the same rest rooms as white people, and had limited or no privileges in hospitals period, a miracle happened. Yes, in spite of those who disregarded poor people and their health care needs, God worked His  miracles anyway. Provident hospital existed in three locations between 1891 and the present. The original provident hospital  was located on 29th and Dearborn, on Chicago’s south side. This hospital came about as a result of people having faith and believing that all things are possible, through Christ who strengthens us. In 1889 a young black woman by the name of Emma Reynolds wanted to be a nurse in Chicago. You see Emma was denied admission into every Chicago nursing school, simply because she was black. Emma soon  learned that some people had a problem with black dreamers. Emma’s brother,  Reverend Louis Reynolds was a pastor of St. Stephen’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Chicago. Upon learning of his sister’s dilemma, he took it upon himself, in a prejudice and unjust society, to approach a highly respected black surgeon, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams for help. The two of them were unsuccessful in influencing Chicago nursing schools to accept black students into nursing programs. Being men of faith, these two brother’s refused to give up. In fact, a passion ignited in them that could not be derailed.   Sited: http://www.providentfoundation.org/history/index.html

Bam! Out of the clear blue Reverend Louis Reynolds and Dr.Daniel Hale William’s had the audacity, to undertake launching a new nursing school for black women, in a vehemently prejudice and unjust society. I mean, this was in 1890! The first group Dr.Daniel Hale Williams consulted with was a group of black ministers and later he included, physicians and businessmen, who explored the possibility of establishing a nurse-training facility and hospital. Community leaders got involved and committed to supporting their efforts and next they initiated aggressive fund- raising initiatives.  There were also a few prominent white citizens who donated . Rallies were scheduled on the south side and west side of Chicago, in the midst of a prejudice and unjust society. Donations were not limited to monetary ones, supplies, equipment and other items were donated. The most important contribution came in 1890, when clergyman Reverend Jenkins Jones, successfully secured a commitment from the Armour Meat Packing Company, for the down payment on a three-story brick house, at 29th and Dearborn. This was the first Provident Hospital. It had 12 beds. Late In 1894, Dr. Williams moved to Washington, D.C., where he was named surgeon-in-chief of Freedmen’s Hospital. Sited: http://www.providentfoundation.org/history/index.html

 ” Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Matthew  25;21

 Black people were so proud back then, to have a hospital that would be responsive to their community. Once the hospital building was secured, the founders realized that their were added community needs to consider. So in 1891 a charter was drafted for “Provident  Training School Association.” This is what the charter stated: “The object for which it is formed is to maintain a hospital and training school for nurses in the City of Chicago, Illinois, for the gratuitous treatment of the medical and surgical diseases of the sick and poor. Around 1933 a controversial educational affiliation with the University of Chicago arose. As part of the agreement, Provident purchased a building at 426 East 51st Street, previously occupied by the Chicago Lying-in Hospital. The newly refurbished, seven story facility added much space for patient care, education, and administrative functions. A four-story outpatient building was constructed and two apartment buildings at 50th and Vincennes were purchased to house student nurses. As evidence of its support, the University of Chicago established a one million dollar fund for teaching and research at Provident Hospital.

By 1892, seven women, including Emma Reynolds, had enrolled in the first nursing class. Note; Provident Hospital was established to service all races, and it’s patient’s and physicians represented Caucasian and Black’s. Provident did experience some financial hardships over the years, even having to close its doors in 1987. However, there’s something about this hospital and it’s passion and determination to stay alive. It simply refuses to die. Could this hospital be chosen? Prior to Provident’s closing in 1987, it had one other major financial crisis, which was in the late 40’s. The last blow and most striking blow was in 1987 when increasing debt ed to Provident Hospital closing it’s doors. In September 1987, Provident officially   closed it’s doors. Prior to that, Provident had developed an alliance with Cook County Hospital, and other public and private financing plans. However, none of these efforts were successful and the hospital declared bankruptcy in July 1987. 

As of 1991 Provident’s home had been 426 East 51st, Chicago, Il since 1933. This was the 3rd and last place. Surely, one would think this 1987 closure spelled the end for this historic, first  black-owned and operated hospital in America.  But, little did we know, this move later proved to be temporary. Just a few years later, God’ put it in the hearts of a chosen few to mobilize and get the hospital re-opened. The community interest in re-opening Provident Hospital remained a priority for many. Community groups and others tried to raise both funding and political support to reopen the hospital. However, these efforts were not successful. Fortunately, a the long-standing interest of Cook County Hospital in Provident Hospital, resulted in e the Cook County Board of Commissioners acquiring Provident Hospital, in 1991.

Fortunately this coincided with the County’s Bureau of Health Services’ plan to improve service provision to County residents living on the south side of Chicago. During this time black people and some whites really wanted to see Provident open again. Community groups and others worked to raise money, while at the same time looking to politicians for support. In the end, these efforts failed. However, just when it looked as if the dinosaur had went down for the last time…God stepped in. It turned out that Cook County Hospital had an interest in purchasing Provident Hospital in effort to coincide with the County’s Bureau of Health Services’ plan to improve service to County residents living on the south side of Chicago. As a result of this genuine interest in providing healthcare to people in need, Provident Hospital re-opened it’s doors in August of 1993 and it remains open today.  

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”    MARK 12;10

Babe in Christ

Provident Hospital (Chicago)

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Provident Hospital of Cook County
Location 550 E. 51st Street
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Funding Public hospital
Hospital type Community, Teaching
Affiliated university Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine[1]
Network Cook County Bureau of Health Services
Founded 1891 as Provident Hospital and Training School
Reopened in 1993 as Provident Hospital of Cook County
Closed 1987-1993
Website Provident Hospital of Cook County
Posted in: Uncategorized