Freedmen’s Hospital – First Hospital of its Kind to Provide Medical Services to Former Slaves

1 Posted by - February 21, 2023 - Black History, Blacks In Medicine

The Freedmen’s Hospital was founded in Washington D.C, in 1862. It was the first proper hospital of its kind to provide medical services to former slaves. Later on, it was upgraded into a lavish and more proper hospital for African-American community residing in Washington D.C. The hospital was located on the Camp Baker at 13th and R Streets in Northwest Washington. It remained in the same location until a new building was prepared in 1909 at Bryant and 6th Street. According to the history, the hospital was completely managed by the U.S. government.

In 1868, six years after Freedmen’s Hospital was found, it became a teaching hospital for the Howard University Medical School. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander T. Augusta, M.D. was one of the first faculties serving in the teaching hospital. In 1863, Augusta was made the in charge of the hospital and was the first African-American hospital administrator in the history of United States. He also got the opportunity to teach at the Howard University Medical School. He was one of the six faculty members of the Howard University Medical School, including Anderson Ruffin Abbott, who was another African-American educationist. Augusta continued his services as a faculty till 1877.

Despite having strong federal control, Freedmen’s Hospital went through several controversies between 1872 and 1910. Every employee of the hospital whether a Black or White was involved in different scandal from malpractice to misconduct. Numerous controversial cases were brought to attention regarding the hospital officials who used different hospital services for personal favors. Some were charged with misappropriation and others with negligence. While the hospital went through serious allegations and the leadership was tarnished, the doctors and nurses continued to provide their hospitable services to the residents of District of Columbia. The Asylum of Freedmen’s Hospital was connected to the hospital and provided care for disabled and aged Blacks patients.

In 1967, Freedmen’s Hospital was merged into the Howard University and performed its operations till 1975. Later, in 1975, a new university hospital opened at 2041 Georgia Avenue, and the former building is now taken by the Howard University College of Nursing and College of Allied Health Sciences. The medical facilities were managed by the Howard University, which is now called as the Howard University Hospital. The aim of these hospitals was to provide proper health services to the black community in Washington D.C., and they utterly fulfilled what they dreamt for.

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