Little Known Black History Fact: Riverside General Hospital

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  • Riverside General Hospital (RGH) in Houston, Texas is the only remaining historically black hospital in the United States. Formerly known as the Houston Negro Hospital, the 1927 facility was the dream project of several black doctors.

    Funded by a wealthy white Texas oilman named J. S. Cullinan, Houston Negro Hospital was dedicated to the black community on the Juneteenth holiday in 1926. The Tiffany Company donated a bronze tablet for the event. Interestingly, the dedication was one year prior to the actual opening of the hospital doors.

    In 1961, the hospital building was extended and renamed Riverside General. It was the first medical center for black patients in Houston, and provided a place for Black physicians to work who were not allowed to admit patients to the black wards of Houston’s white hospitals.

    The staff and faculty of Riverside General Hospital were all African-American. Benjamin C. Covington and Rupert O. Roett, from Meharry Medical School were part of the first wave of black physicians. Hospital memberships were sold to black families for $6 a year. This included free hospitalization for ill patients. Though it was intended to serve the 15,000 in the black community of Houston, the hospital would only average about eight patients per day. This directly affected RGH’s unique black nurses program, which was the only one in the city.

    Over the years, RGH was given additions and renovations through donations and grants, including from Texas Historical Commission. However, with integration, more black physicians went to work for mainstream hospitals and RGH suffered.

    Riverside General Hospital is a nonprofit acute-care facility in Houston, Texas that is in need of additional funding to keep its doors open and available to low-income families. The hospital holds health fairs to assist the community at-large, but is in search of donations.

    For more information on how you can help Riverside General Hospital, contact:

    Riverside General Hospital

    Leslie Gregory, 832-474-8288, lgregory@rghospital.org

    Tasha Armstead, 713-210-9497, tarmstead@rghospital.org
     

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