On May 4, 1891, Provident Hospital and Training School opened. This was the first Black controlled hospital in America, and it opened on the south side of Chicago.
The racially exclusionary policies of Chicago nursing schools had impelled Daniel Hale Williams, a prominent Black surgeon to found the institution. During its early years the hospital reflected its founders vision of an interracial enterprise. However by 1915, Provident had become a predominantly Black institution. It won renown as a medical center, graduating 118 women from twenty-four states through its nursing program.
In 1929, Provident became the site of a pioneering experiment in Black medical education and hospital reform when it affiliated with the University of Chicago. That relationship ended in 1944. Financial problems were an issue from the beginning, mainly due to the poverty of most of its patients and thus Provident struggled to survive as a business. In August 1982, it moved into a new modern facility, which did not reverse the debt, and it was closed in September 1987.
The interest in reopening Provident Hospital remained a priority for many. Community groups and others tried to raise both funding and political support to reopen the hospital. These efforts were not successful. Yet, the venerable interest of Cook County Hospital in Provident Hospital led their Cook County Board of Commissioners to buy the hospital in 1991. This matched up with the County’s Bureau of Health Services’ plan to improve medical service to residents living on the south side of Chicago. After a sizable investment in upgrading the physical plant, the Bureau reopened Provident Hospital in August 1993.
The Hospital’s traditional medical education role was reestablished in 1994 through an educational relationship with Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine. While no longer considered a Black-run hospital, Provident continues to serve the health needs of the community, including a variety of health outreach efforts.