Milestones of Henry Ford Hospital

At Henry Ford, patient care is always first and foremost. Part of our commitment to providing the best possible care has resulted in numerous innovations and firsts for medicine and health care over the past 90 years -- not only for this region, but for Michigan and the nation.

1900 - 1940 | 1941 - 1945 | 1946 - 1970 | 1971 - 1990 | 1991 - Present


1915 Original Seven Buildings
Original Seven Buildings, 1915

1915: Henry Ford Hospital, located at what was then the edge of the city of Detroit at Hamilton and West Grand Boulevards, opened its doors to patients in October. A Private Patient Building accommodated 48 patients and several other small buildings housed the surgical pavilion, research quarters, kitchens and laundry facilities, the power plant and garage. The hospital was financed and built by automotive pioneer Henry Ford, who organized a closed staff of physicians and surgeons, many of whom came from Johns Hopkins. Within two years, construction of a larger building began on the same 20 acre site.

- Henry Ford Hospital is one of the first U.S. hospitals to use a standard fee schedule and favor private or semi-private rooms over large wards. It also is the first hospital in the country to form a closed, salaried medical staff. This group practice model first is scorned by the medical profession but is gradually accepted. Because of founder Henry Ford's concern that tobacco is unhealthy, Henry Ford Hospital is one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to institute a total ban on smoking.

Henry Ford Hospital as U.S. Army General Hospital #36, 1919
1918: After the United States entered World War I, hospital staff members were recruited or enlisted. As the hospital could not operate on its own, Henry Ford offered it to the U.S. government for use as an Army hospital for the duration of the war. A ceremony on October 26 marked the temporary transfer of the unfinished Henry Ford Hospital to the U.S. Army. For the next eleven months, the Henry Ford Hospital would be known as the U.S. Army General Hospital No. 36. After the war ended on November 11, hospital facilities were needed to care for the hundreds of wounded and ailing American soldiers as they returned home.
1920 McClure
Dr. Roy McClure and other Henry Ford Surgeons, 1920

1919: The hospital was returned to Henry Ford by the government on November 1, and the original staff returned from their army service and again opened the hospital. That same month, a second influenza epidemic arrived, and 300 emergency beds were made available for the city. Stricken patients flooded the hospital, all of them seriously ill and many of them dying. Almost 9,000 Detroiters fell victim to the infection.

1921: On December 21, the 50,000-square-foot main hospital opened with a completely equipped diagnostic clinic, staff and 500-bed capacity. With four floors of private inpatient rooms and a six-story central unit, it offered the finest care and hospital surroundings available anywhere in the country.

1923 Ambulance
Henry Ford Hospital Ambulance, c1923
1925 CF HOme
Clara Ford Nurses Home, 1925

1923: Under the direction of Dr. Thomas J. Heldt, Henry Ford Hospital is one of the country's first general hospitals to establish a psychiatric unit within its walls.

1925: A 300-room Nurses Home named for Clara Ford was opened to house students of the newly formed Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing. The diploma school offered training in basic sciences and nursing practice, graduating more than 5,000 students in the ensuing 71 years of its operation. The school was known for its high standards and excellence in education and practice, and "Ford grads" were easily recognized by their unique caps as well as for their skillful care of patients.

1926: The Division of Neurosurgery at Henry Ford Hospital was established by Albert Crawford.

1935: Dr. Roy McClure begins adding iodine to kitchen salt to prevent the development of endemic goiters. Eventually all salt for human use is iodized by law.

1940: Dr. Conrad Lam is the nation's first physician to administer purified heparin to treat clotting of veins.


1943 Tent
Liquid Oxygen tent, 1943

1942: Henry Ford Hospital is one of a few U.S. hospitals selected by the National Research Council as a trial site to test penicillin. Drs. Conrad Lam and Edward Quinn treat about 40 medical and surgical patients with the drug.

1943: Henry Ford Hospital’s Dr. Frank Hartman develops the liquid Oxygen Tent.

1944: Henry Ford Hospital becomes the first hospital to use the now-routine technique of multiple lead electrocardiograms introduced by Dr. Robert F. Ziegler. The following year, Dr. Ziegler establishes one of the first cardiology training programs in the United States, as well as initiating the hospital’s first cardiac catheterization studies program.


Dr. John Ormond, 1948
1947: The Edsel B. Ford Institute for Medical Research was established as Henry Ford Hospital's formal division of scientific research. The Institute developed over the years and later became a research department with activities involving millions of dollar in research grants annually and projects in many areas of medical and surgical specialization. Ultimately, in 1990, the health system's academic and research activities were brought together under the umbrella of the newly formed Henry Ford Health Sciences Center.
Dr. D. Emerick Szilagyi

1948: Henry Ford Hospital urologist Dr. John K. Ormond rediscovers retroperitoneal fibrosis, now called Ormond's Disease -- a condition characterized by the development of a plaque-like mass of fibrous tissue in the retroperitoneum. Ormond described two patients with diffuse fibrosis of the retroperitoneal tissues, and established the clinical and pathological entity of idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis more clearly.

1951: Drs. Lam and Edward Munnell developed a technique for the correction of mitral valve stenosis, using a special six-finger glove with a knife attached to the sixth mid-palm finger.

1956 Lam
Dr. Conrad Lam's heart-lug machine, 1956

1952: Henry Ford vascular surgeon Dr. D. Emerick Szilagyi performs Michigan's and one of the world's first grafts of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

1955: The hospital celebrated the opening of a 17-story Clinic Building, which housed 14 specialty outpatient clinics, a 35,000-volume medical library and 20 new operating rooms. The new facility relieved crowding.

- Dr. Szilagyi established the first homograft blood vessel bank in the state. Sterilized homografts from human cadavers are used in clinical practice and shared with other institutions.

- The initial meeting of what was to become the Six Clinic Conference was held in Detroit in January, and included representatives from Henry Ford Hospital, Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans and the Cleveland Clinic. In March, the group met again in New Orleans, and were joined by representatives from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In November a third meeting was held in Cleveland. This one served as the first formal meeting of the group, and included members from the sixth participant, the Lahey Clinic in Boston. For 40 years representatives of the same six institutions met annually, rotating locations among themselves, to compare ideas and activities of their multi-specialty, group practice institutions.

1956: Henry Ford cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Conrad Lam performs the first successful open heart surgery in Michigan using the heart-lung machine.

- Henry Ford’s Dr. James Barron develops the Barron Food Pump, a device used to deliver pureed food through a small nasal gastric tube.

1958: WWJ-TV in Detroit broadcasted a live telecast of a surgical procedure involving the resection of an aorta and its replacement with an artificial Dacron graft. The operation, performed by Drs. D. Emerick Szilagyi and Roger F. Smith in a Henry Ford Hospital operating suite, was described as it proceeded by television newsman James Clark. Commentary was provided by an expert panel including Dr. Henry Bahnson of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Marion S. Deweese of the University of Michigan and Dr. Eugene Osius of Harper Hospital. The live broadcast, sponsored by the Michigan State Medical Society and the Wayne County Medical Society during the 12th annual Michigan Clinical Institute, was one of the first of its kind in the United States and brought positive acclaim to the hospital and its Department of Surgery.

1960 Szilagyi
Dr. D. Emerick Szilagyi, 1960

1960: Community Health Association - which later became Health Alliance Plan - becomes Michigan's first non-profit, prepaid group practice health plan.

1966: The Henry Ford Hospital Coronary Care Unit opened. It was one of the first of its kind in Detroit and the largest in Michigan.

Conrad Lam
Dr. Conrad R. Lam, 1965

1967: Dr. George Mikhail performs Detroit's first Mohs Micrographic Surgery, a procedure to remove skin cancers.

Dr. Clarence Livingood, 1968

1968: The first allogenic kidney transplant is done in Detroit by Drs. D. Emerick Szilagyi, Joseph P. Elliott and Roger F. Smith.

1970: Drs. Charles Jackson, Melvin Block and Martin Miller are among the first in the country to use calcitonin (a hormone) testing for the early detection of medullary thyroid cancers in families.


1971 Troy
Satellite Center in Troy, 1971

1971 : Henry Ford Hospital opens a satellite center, housing computer operations and clinical activities in Troy.

1973 Jackson
Dr. Charles Jackson, 1973

1973: The first renal transplant to a diabetic patient in Michigan is performed by Dr. Stanley Dienst at Henry Ford Hospital.

1975 Satellite
Two large new satellite outpatient centers were opened, 1975

1975: Two large new satellite outpatient centers were opened in 1975, one in Dearborn and one in West Bloomfield. Within a short time, many former Henry Ford Hospital patients returned as they found the care they required available closer to their homes. These new centers featured family and pediatric care, dentistry, behavioral services, radiology, and pharmacy services. Thus began the expansion of Henry Ford Hospital services into the Detroit metropolitan area.

1977 Nelson Ford
Stanley Neslon and Benson Ford, 1977

1976: Improvements at Henry Ford Hospital continued with the opening of a computed tomographic (CT) scanning center, which featured a $600,000 CT full-body scanner, the first such hospital-based unit in the state, as well as a smaller EMI head scanner.

1978 Sleep Center
Henry Ford opens first Sleep Center, 1978

1978: Henry Ford Hospital opens the first Sleep Disorders Center in Michigan and the eighth in the country.

1979: Henry Ford Hospital was one of the pioneers in performing coronary angioplasty. This balloon procedure has revolutionized cardiology care for patients with coronary disease.

1980: The Department of Neurology acquired the first Topical Magnetic Resonance (TMR) unit in the nation, providing increased capability of non-invasive exploration of the brain and other organs. The department also achieved a designation as one of 12 Stroke Centers in the United States.

- Henry Ford otolaryngologist Dr. Shiro Fujita developed a surgical procedure called uvulopalato-pharyngoplasty to enlarge the oropharyngeal airway in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The procedure was later adopted nationwide, and the Center for Sleep Disorders incorporated this treatment into their research on blood oxygen levels in sleep apnea patients.

- Drs. Fred W. Whitehouse and Dorothy A. Kahkonen were the first physicians in Michigan and the second in the country to administer human insulin to a patient with diabetes.

1981 Maplegrove
Maplegrove, 1981

1981: Maplegrove was built on a secluded site at the West Bloomfield campus. The 40,000-square-foot, 50-bed center, in its peaceful woodsy setting, opened in February. It featured bedrooms, lounges, a library, examining rooms, therapy and staff areas and recreational areas. A multidisciplinary staff of physicians, nurses, counselors and therapists provided a four-week residential program, a three-phase program for the recovery of adult alcohol-addicted patients, as well as outpatient programs. Betty Ford came to Detroit to dedicate the Center.

Clay Ford Pavilion
Clay Ford Pavilion, 1982

1982: A 210,000-square-foot addition called Eleanor Clay Ford Pavilion opened, housing new operating rooms, modern emergency room facilities, intensive care units and radiology facilities.

1983: The Hospital's Board of Trustees reorganized by incorporating a parent organization called the Henry Ford Health Care Corporation to oversee the operations of the hospital and two subsidiaries. During the late 1980s, the hospital affiliated with Cottage, Wyandotte and Kingswood Hospitals, and added an HMO called Health Alliance Plan.

Detroit's first heart transplant, 1985

1985: Drs. Fraser Keith and Donald Magilligan performed Detroit's first heart transplant. David Butts, a 38-year-old patient from Portage, Michigan, recovered well from this surgery and his rehabilitation was supervised by hospital cardiology staff. Butts was married and became a father, and was able to live a fairly normal family and work life until his death ten years later. Transplantation surgery continued successfully at the hospital after that first procedure. Additional heart transplants followed (34 in the first year), and in 1986 Blue Cross Blue Shield designated Henry Ford Hospital as an approved heart transplant center.

- The first extracorporal shock wave lithotripsy in Michigan is performed at Henry Ford Hospital. This non-invasive procedure breaks kidney stones into sand-like grains which are easily passed from the body.

Dr. Charles Jackson and other researchers, 1987

1986: The Henry Ford Bone & Joint Center is established. It is the first multidisciplinary medical/surgical department of its type in Michigan.

1987: Dr. Charles Jackson and other Henry Ford and Yale researchers identify the location of a gene on chromosome 10, linked to hereditary medullary thyroid cancer. In 1993, the gene itself is identified.

- The first use of iodine radium implant seeds in Michigan is at Henry Ford Hospital. These seeds are used to combat cancerous cells in the prostate.

- The first pancreas transplant at Henry Ford Hospital was performed by transplant surgeon Dr. Heung Oh. The hospital was one of three centers in Michigan to conduct this surgery.

1988: Henry Ford Hospital establishes a center for the treatment of conditions affecting the human voice, called the Center for the Performing Artist, the first of its kind in Michigan and one of the first in the nation.

- The first liver transplant in Detroit was performed at Henry Ford Hospital by Drs. Richard Dow and Martin F. Mozes.

Dr. Livingood, 1990

1990: Henry Ford Health implements the Quality Management Process system-wide, one of the first hospital systems in the country to initiate this process.

- Dr. Clarence Livingood is the recipient of the AMA Distinguished Service Award, the only Michigan physician to have been so honored.

- Henry Ford Mercy Health Network is established as a unique, collaborative joint venture that shares the resources and the expertise of the two health systems.


1993 HAP
Health Alliance Plan, 1993
1993: Henry Ford Health and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement form the Group Practice Improvement Network, with 58 multi-specialty groups to improve quality and value of medical group practices through shared learning.

- Health Alliance Plan is Detroit's first HMO to be fully accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Smell and Taste 1995
Henry Ford Smell and Taste Center opens, 1995
1995 School
School-based Health Center Opening, 1995

1994: The National Committee for Quality Health Care awards Henry Ford Health the first National Quality Award for Health Care Integration, for its success in integrating quality values in the organization.

- A generalist training program for students and residents, one of a handful in the country, is launched in partnership with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

- Henry Ford Health establishes one of the first four tinnitus (ringing in the ear) centers in the country, located in Grosse Pointe Farms.

- Henry Ford Hospital is the only facility in Michigan selected by the National Cancer Institute to join a national consortium to research new treatments and therapies for brain tumors.

- Henry Ford Hospital performs the first lung transplant in metro Detroit, making Henry Ford Hospital the only facility in metro Detroit to perform all solid organ transplants.

1995 JFCI
Josephine Ford Cancer Institute, 1995
1995 Senior
Center for Senior Independence, 1995

1995: The Walter and Josephine Ford Cancer Institute conducts Michigan's first radiosurgery treatment for patients with inoperable tumors using the three-dimensional x-knife system.

- The National Institutes of Health designates the Department of Neurology as a headache research center, the first in the country.

- The Henry Ford Smell and Taste Center opens, one of the only ten in the country that specializes in treating patients with loss of taste or smell.

- Henry Ford Hospital is selected as the only Michigan radiology facility to offer catheter-guided placement of a device for the treatment of high-risk or inoperable brain aneurysms.

- The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awards Henry Ford Health $4 million to develop 13 school-based health centers that will provide primary care to students in Detroit Public Schools.

- Henry Ford Health opens the Center for Senior Independence, a comprehensive medical program that assists the elderly to live independently in their homes and in the community.

- Henry Ford Health president and chief executive officer Gail L. Warden begins his one-year term as chairman of the American Hospital Association. Henry Ford is the only institution in the nation to have had three of its chief executives serve as AHA chairman. The other two are Dr. Robin Buerki (1935-36) and Stanley Nelson (1982).

- Henry Ford Hospital is one of nine hospitals in the nation designated by the National Institutes of Health as a stroke research center.

- Horizon Health System merges with Henry Ford Health, uniquely combining the educational programs of allopathic and osteopathic physicians leading to dual certifications.

1996 OptimEyes
OptimEyes joins Henry Ford Health, 1996

1996: OptimEyes (formerly First Optometry), with its 51 optometry locations in Michigan, joins Henry Ford Health.

- Henry Ford Hospital performs the state's first split-liver transplant, during which a donor's liver is split in two and the halves are transplanted into two patients. A cross-racial, living kidney transplant is performed involving two friends. It is the first in Michigan and one of only two dozen in the country.

1997: Henry Ford Medical Group joins the American Medical Association, making it the largest medical group in the AMA.

1998 HFII
Henry Ford II Pavilion opens, 1998

1998: Josephine Ford donates $10 million to Henry Ford's Cancer Institute, which is renamed in her honor.

- Henry Ford is the state's first hospital to offer genetic testing for breast cancer.

- The $75 million, 185,000-square-foot Henry Ford II Pavilion opens to patients.

- Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute performed Michigan's youngest pediatric heart transplant with Children's Hospital of Michigan

2000 Liver
Henry Ford Hospital performs Michigan's first adult-to-adult, living donor liver transplant, 2000

1999: Friends and family of David Hermelin, ambassador to Norway, pledge $10 million to create a brain tumor research center at Henry Ford.

- HAP named General Motors "benchmark HMO" based on quality. HAP is the only HMO in Michigan and one of 13 HMOs named by GM.

2000: Henry Ford Hospital performs Michigan's first adult-to-adult, living donor liver transplant. The fourteen hour operation by Drs. Marwan Abouljoud and Atsi Yoshida, was the two hundredth to be performed nationwide.

The Vattikuti Foundation is created through the generous donation by Raj and Padma Vattikuti, 2001

2001: The Vattikuti Foundation is created through the generous donation by Raj and Padma Vattikuti. The gift is a $40 million donation to support cancer research and treatment programs at Henry Ford Health and Beaumont Hospitals. In partnership, the institutions work on new treatment methods and education in the prevention of prostate and breast cancers.

- The Vattikuti Urology Institute, under the direction of Dr. Mani Menon, is the first in the country to routinely perform surgery using a robotic system for the treatment of prostate cancer,and is the world’s first to perform outpatient robotic prostatectomy.

Dr. Hani Sabbah, Ph.D., and the Acorn Cardiac-Support device

- The Acorn Cardiac-Support device, used to hold the heart and prevent it from getting larger, is approved for clinical trails. Henry Ford Hospital patients are the first in the world to have the device implanted. Dr. Hani Sabbah, Ph.D., Director of Cardiovascular Research at the Henry Ford Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute, has been working continuously on studies to slow the deterioration of heart failure.

- Henry Ford doctors become the first in the state to use gene therapy for the treatment of brain tumors

2002 JFCI
The Josephine Ford Cancer Institute, 2002

2002: The Josephine Ford Cancer Institute broke ground on a $2 million expansion project at the Henry Ford Medical Center West Bloomfield Center. The center is named the 'Williams International Cancer Wing', in honor of the the Williams International Company, which pledged $1.5 million for the addition. The 4,000 square foot wing is designed on the Josephine Ford Cancer Institute's multi-disciplinary team approach to patient care.

Henry Ford Hospital is ranked for excellence in nine medical specialties by the U.S. News and World Report Magazine. The report features the top 50 of America's "Best Hospitals"in 17 specialties and places Henry Ford Hospital in more specialty areas than any other metropolitan Detroit hospital. These include cancer, heart and heart surgery, hormonal disorders and endocrinology, kidney disease or nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, otolaryngology or ENT, respiratory disorders and urology.

Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D., 2003

2003: Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D. was appointed as Michigan's first Surgeon General by Governor Jennifer Granholm. She was the director of the Institute of Multicultural Health at Henry Ford Health, which was created to improve the health and quality of life for underrepresented racial and ethnic populations in Michigan. She also serves on committees with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health.

2004: Henry Ford Hospital completed its 1,000th robotic prostatectomy– more than any other center in the world. As of Feb. 2006, the Hospital had performed 2,230 robotic prostatectomy operations and counting.

- Henry Ford Health wins the Foster G. McGraw award for excellence in community service. Henry Ford is the first health system in Michigan to win the prestigious honor, which recognizes an organization for providing programs and services that promote the health and well-being of the community. Cited were Henry Ford’s school-based health initiative, African-American Initiative for Male Health Improvement or AIM-HI, and SandCastles, as well as services that support City Year and the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority.

2002 US News
Henry Ford Hospital is ranked for excellence in nine medical specialties by the U.S. News and World Report Magazine, 2002
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

2005: Henry Ford Hospital was ranked by U.S. News and World Report magazine for excellence in 10 medical specialties. The report features the top 50 of America's “Best Hospitals” and ranked Henry Ford in more specialty areas than any other Detroit area hospital, including cancer, digestive disorders, geriatrics, heart and heart surgery, hormonal disorders, kidney disease, neurology and neurosurgery, otolaryngology, respiratory disorders and urology. Henry Ford Hospital also ranked sixth nationally in the “50 Exceptional Hospitals” issue of Consumers Digest magazine. Henry Ford was the only hospital ranked from southeastern Michigan, and one of two in the state.

- Health Alliance Plan (HAP) and the Henry Ford Medical Group piloted a major electronic prescribing initiative at the request of the Big Three automakers – General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler, to cut prescription costs and improve quality. The 60-physician pilot was so successful, e-Prescribing quickly became a Henry Ford Health-wide initiative. A year after e-Prescribing was launched, more than 500,000 prescriptions had been filled by Henry Ford Medical Group. Their physicians now write more than 20,000 electronic prescriptions weekly. e-Prescribing has helped Henry Ford Medical Group improve its overall generic use rate by 7.3 percent, which will save $3.1 million in pharmacy costs over a one-year period.

- Henry Ford further strengthened its commitment to Detroit by opening the $8.2 million, 80,000-square-foot Henry Ford Medical Center in the beautiful, renovated space at New Center One; and the $1.4 million Henry Ford Medical Center – Harbortown, on East Jefferson Avenue, in the Harbortown retail center in Detroit.

- Henry Ford Health broke ground for the new $310 million, 300-bed Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, which opened in 2009.

2006: For more than 20 years Brandon Laethem battled cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that kept him on daily therapy and in and out of the hospital. But when his symptoms worsened, the only viable option was an organ transplant. On Jan. 21, the 22-year-old Laethem underwent a life-saving double lung transplant at Henry Ford Hospital, becoming its youngest patient to receive a lung transplant.

- In March, Henry Ford Health announced plans to invest more than $300 million over the next five years in its flagship facility, Henry Ford Hospital. The investment, representing the single-largest investment in renovation and expansion in the hospital’s history, will be used for creating new patient rooms (80 private and 18 intensive beds), new operating suites, renovating research facilities and upgrading information technology. Demand for services downtown has significantly increased in recent years and is anticipated to grow faster over the next decade. From 2003 to 2005, Henry Ford Hospital had the highest admission growth in southeastern Michigan, with an increase of 13.4 percent. Projects will include:

  • CarePlus Next Generation, a $40 million technology enhancement of Henry Ford’s electronic medical record
  • Expansion of the Emergency Department, including a new lobby-waiting area, a sub-waiting area for patient’s family members and an additional 27 patient bays. The expanded Emergency Room (ER) is scheduled to open in August 2006.
  • Expansion of the Henry Ford II Pavilion, the West Pavilion of the main hospital. Construction will begin in 2006 on a two-floor addition that will house 80 new private patient rooms.
  • Eighteen new intensive care beds in the Henry Ford II Pavilion
  • Three additional operating rooms designed to accommodate new technology, including robotics and additional pre-surgery and recovery room capacity
  • Several of the clinic floors of the 17 floor tower will undergo a major redesign and renovation.
  • Research and education development over the next 10 years with an investment expected to exceed $25 million.
  • Numerous other infrastructure upgrades, renovations and replacements

Photos: © Property of Henry Ford Health Conrad R. Lam Archives, All Rights Reserved

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