Founded this day in History
By Ken Hare
Chicago Defender Staff Writer
In 1889, Emma Reynolds, a young woman who aspired to be a nurse, was denied admission by each of Chicago’s nursing schools on the grounds that she was black. Her brother, the Reverend Louis Reynolds, pastor of St. Stephen’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, approached the respected black surgeon, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams for help. Unable to influence the existing schools, they decided to launch a new nursing school for black women. In 1890, Dr. Williams consulted with a group of black ministers, physicians and businessmen to explore establishing a nurse-training facility and hospital. There were only a few black physicians in Chicago at this time, and all had limited or no hospital privileges. The community leaders assured him of their support and energetic fund-raising began.
With the help of a few prominent white citizens as well as many black individuals and organizations, donations were collected. Rallies were scheduled on Chicago’s south and west sides. The donations included supplies, equipment, and financial support. One of the most important early contributions came in 1890 when clergyman Reverend Jenkins Jones secured a commitment from the Armour Meat Packing Company for the down payment on a three-story brick house at 29th and Dearborn. This building, with 12 beds, became the first Provident Hospital, according to Provident Foundation’s website.
Provident Hospital and Training School was founded on May 4, 1891. The first African-American owned and operated hospital in America was established in Chicago by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a Black surgeon during the time in American history where few public or private medical facilities were open to Black Americans.
The historic Provident Hospital was forced to close in 1987 due to financial difficulties, it reopened in 1993 as part of Cook County’s Bureau of Health Services to provide services to residents of Chicago’s south side.
In 1887, Williams became the first African American on record to have successfully performed pericardium surgery to repair a wound, according to sources.