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The First Black-Owned Hospital Was Founded By This Pioneering Surgeon

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams III, founder of the first Black-owned hospital

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams III was a pioneering African American surgeon who is known for performing one of the world´s first successful open heart surgeries, and for opening the first Black-owned and controlled hospital in the nation.
He was born on January 18, 1856 in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania, and started showing interest in medicine in 1878 when he began working in the office of Henry Palmer, a Wisconsin-based surgeon. Two years later, he studied at Chicago Medical College, receiving a doctor of Medicine degree three years later. Upon graduation, Dr. Williams immediately opened his own practice in Chicago and began teaching anatomy at Chicago Medical College.

He set very high standards in medical procedures and sanitary conditions. For example, he adopted sterilization, which at the time was a newly-discovered procedure to prevent to germ transmission and infections.

In 1891, in response to the constant racism and discrimination that existed in hospitals at the time, he opened Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, which is known to be the first Black-owned hospital in the nation. His facility was one of the first to have had an interracial staff, and also a training facility specifically for African American nurses.

In 1893, Dr. Williams made history again when he successfully performed open heart surgery on a young Black male patient even though he only had a limited supply of surgical equipment and medicine.

In 1895, he co-founded The National Medical Association (NMA), a national organization for Black medical practitioners. This too was established because of the extreme levels of racism that existed in the medical community.

Dr. Williams made history again in 1913 when he became the first black member of the exclusive American College of Surgeons, the most groundbreaking award bestowed to doctors. Sadly, died on August 4, 1931. He was 75-years old.