The problem of racial segregation in Detroit hospitals and a raging tuberculosis epidemic led to the opening of the hospital in 1931. The facility was primarily used as a tuberculosis treatment hospital as its founder, Dr. Alfred Thomas Sr. and son, Dr. Alfred Thomas Jr., sought their own private solutions to the serious health problems facing the African American community in Detroit.
Six years later, Bethesda was joined by its "sister" institution, Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital, which Dr. Thomas Sr. opened for the care of the acutely ill patient. The combined capacity for both institutions was approximately 197 patients.
Dunbar Hospital was the result of planning by a biracial committee intent on establishing a non-profit institution that could serve the African American population of Detroit. In addition to 27 beds, the facility included an operating room. In 1924, shortly before moving and becoming Parkside Hospital, the facility was expanded to 40 beds.
Playing crucial roles in the newly opened facility in 1918 were Drs. James Ames and Alexander Turner, the medical director and chief of surgery, respectively. Dr. George Bundy is believed to have performed deliveries at Woman's Hospital, even though he was denied admitting privileges there.
In an attempt to compete with majority hospitals and to change the perception of health care in the African American community, Dunbar Hospital relocated across from Harper Hospital and changed its name to Parkside. Spearheading the activity was Dr. Robert Greenidge. Following an incident where Dr. Greenidge experienced racism first-hand at the Florence Crittenton Home (a maternity facility), Greenidge felt it necessary to help the African American community organize itself and capitalize upon its strengths.
Parkside was intent on establishing itself as a respected provider of health care services. However, the only patients ever sent there from Harper Hospital were those considered to be terminal. Parkside had the reputation as "the place to go when you die," but the hospital itself finally succumbed to pressures to vacate. The hospital was torn down in 1962 to make room for the expansion of Detroit Receiving Hospital and the general development of the Detroit Medical Center.
Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital
Founded by Dr. Alfred E. Thomas Sr. in June of 1937, Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital was dedicated in memory of his deceased daughter. Dr. Thomas Sr. received his M.D. degree from Meharry Medical College in 1903. He helped to organize the Allied/Detroit Medical Society in 1917 and was its first president until 1931. The first of the two buildings comprising the hospital was a three-story structure devoted to the care of medical and obstetrical cases. The second building opened in December, 1937.
It had two floors, with an outpatient clinic on the second floor, and was intended exclusively for the care of surgical cases. It had an operating room, X-ray room, laboratory, and sterilizing room. The clinic was equipped with 15 beds for those needing temporary institutionalization. Edyth K. Thomas Hospital admitted 1,568 patients during its first fiscal year. By 1950 it had the capacity to service 58 general patients and 102 psychiatric patients. Dr. Alf Thomas, Sr. was a founder or co-founder of at least five of Detroit's African American Hospitals. Edyth K. Thomas Hospital closed in 1965