Henry Ford Health System hits triple digits this year, turning 100 years old. The Detroit Historical Museum is marking the anniversary with a special exhibit exploring the system's 10 decades of history, beginning with its origins in the Detroit General Hospital Association.
Automotive pioneer Henry Ford intended merely to invest in a hospital. “But when construction of the facility came to a standstill soon after groundbreaking, a disgusted Ford bought out all his fellow investors and finished the job himself,” according to a museum news release.
Besides tracking the growth of the system from the original Henry Ford Hospital, the exhibit also notes some clinical milestones, including the hospital's distinction of “being the first in the country to use purified heparin to treat blood clots, and one of only a few U.S. hospitals chosen as a national test location for penicillin,” according to the museum.
While the original hospital officially opened with 48 beds on Oct. 1, 1915, a few patients had already been treated in the M-Unit, its first ward for treating chemical dependency. After the U.S. outlawed the use of cocaine, opium and other drugs in 1914, Ford wanted such a facility to help his employees with addictions.
In fact, the first patient with a documented medical record at the hospital, from July 1915, was a 34-year-old male stock checker with “chronic morphinism,” or morphine addiction, according to a document in the system's centennial timeline.
The exhibit, which opened in April, will be on display at the museum until Jan. 3, 2016.