Provident Hospital and Training School was the first African American owned hospital in the United States. The hospital was opened because a young black woman who was aspiring to become a nurse was turned down for admission to all Chicago’s nursing schools because of her race. After seeing what was happening, her brother, the Rev. Louis Reynolds, approached a respected black surgeon during that time, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams for assistance. The two decided to start a new nursing school for black women. Here are five other facts you might not know about the hospital.
1. The school opened on the south side of Chicago on April 5, 1891. Provident Hospital became an Illinois corporation, the training school for nurses opened and Dr. Williams was appointed hospital chief-of-staff. He attracted national attention when he sewed up the lining of a human heart following a stab wound; it was a procedure that was deemed as impossible.
2. By 1892, seven women, including Emma Reynolds, had enrolled in the first nursing class. Provident was established to serve all races, and its patients and physicians were black and white during early years. It is estimated that by 1897, the Hospital had over 180 inpatients, and the outpatient clinic, the Armour Dispensary, treated approximately 6,000 patients.
3. By 1915, Provident had become a predominantly African American institution. It had become a renown a medical center, graduating 118 women from twenty-four states through its nursing program.
4. Credit is given to black residents, workers, employers, public officials, church leaders, and civic leaders to opening and sustaining the facility. The hospital was dependent on wealthy donors, and the generosity of community residents.
5. Provident began to have problems with their finances in the 1940s. However, they overcame those obstacles only to go through the same situation in the late 1980s. The hospital attempted a series of efforts to keep their doors open to no avail. Provident Hospital closed its doors in September 1987.