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May 24th
Early Miami Hospitals PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul S. George, BT Contributor   
May 2018

A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami

JPix_PictureStory_5-18ackson Memorial Hospital is 100 years old. Not surprisingly, it has had a role in the city’s rich history, including its efforts to treat the many victims of the flu epidemic in 1918-1919, its medical care for the injured after the killer hurricane of 1926, and its desegregation initiatives in the 1950s as the area began grappling with the insidious effects of Jim Crowism. Further, the hospital has been on the cutting edge of medical technology, surgical procedures, and new treatment facilities.

Early on, the need for a hospital in the rapidly growing City of Miami prompted Henry M. Flagler, the oil and railroad tycoon who helped found Miami in 1896, to build a hospital on the corner of today’s NE 9th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, with the proviso that the city maintain it.

But the city fell short in that effort, leading Flagler to take back the 24-bed hospital and convert it to a rental apartment. Flagler reversed course in 1905, reconverting the building into the Florida East Coast Hospital for railroad employees and their families.

James M. Jackson, M.D., who arrived in Miami as the Florida East Coast Railway doctor in 1896, was placed in charge. Jackson also brought his private patients to the hospital, as did other physicians. But prior to U.S. entrance into World War I, the hospital was converted into living quarters for the armed forces stationed here.

Already, however, another hospital had opened, known as the Friendly Society Hospital for its chief sponsor, Father A.B. Friend, pastor of the Church of the Holy Name, today’s Gesu Catholic Church. Opened in 1909 one block east of the Florida East Coast Hospital, the facility quickly became burdened with financial problems, leading Father Friend and other directors to request the City of Miami to assume control of its operations, which it agreed to do in 1911.

Even with the addition of an operating room, the City Hospital, as it was now called, couldn’t meet the medical needs of a spiraling population. In 1918 it was replaced by another building one mile northwest of the original hospital in a pine-studded area where today’s giant Jackson Memorial Hospital complex stands. Next month we’ll examine the history of the new hospital and its successor, Jackson Memorial Hospital.

 

Paul George is historian at HistoryMiami Museum. To order a copy of this photo, contact HistoryMiami archives manager Ashley Trujillo at 305-375-1623, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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