There were a number of Black-owned and operated hospitals in Detroit’s urban center throughout the 20th Century. This was a necessity inspired by the segregation and racist mistreatment of Black patients and doctors. One of the most well-known of these facilities was Trinity Hospital, which is now defunct but not without establishing a strong legacy.
Trinity was founded in 1934 by doctors W. Harold Johnson, Chester C. Ames, and Frank Perryn Raiford, Jr. The hospital had a dual purpose of housing and treating ill Black patients while also giving opportunities to Black doctors looking to complete their residency training. Trinity also assisted postgraduate surgical training to students as well. Because many white hospitals shunned Black patients and doctors, Trinity thrived.
Trinity was the first Black hospital in Detroit to operate a cancer treatment center, and pioneered a number of deep X-Ray procedures used in treating patients and other methods. The hospital closed its doors in 1962, but merged its operations with one of its founders’ son’s non-profit hospitals. Dr. Perryn Raiford III opened Boulevard General in 1960 to serve the city’s growing Black and poor citizens, and continued the operation into the 1970s.
Raiford III attended the University of Michigan just as his father did, and followed his path simply because he wanted to carry on the tradition. For the seven years he attended undergraduate and medical school at the university, Raiford III was the was the only Black student in the Class of 1940. He endured essentially by powering his way through school, even though he faced extreme racism as he described in a 1998 radio interview.
Boulevard General merged into Southwest General in 1974, which shuttered its doors in 1991 for good once healthcare expanded across the city.