Detroit Hope/New Center Hospital

What would push a healthcare provider into abandoning a four-story hospital still filled with tens of thousands of dollars in medical equipment?  Decimated within weeks, this still-stocked abandoned hospital served as an example to property owners of the swift and destructive force of metal scrappers.

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Detroit Hope started as Park Community Hospital, which was first located in a converted house.  The privately funded hospital in the Virginia Park neighborhood, largely staffed by volunteers, became too large for the house.  It was demolished to make way for a brand new, modern facility in 1968, rebranded as New Center Hospital.   As a health system specifically designed for and by minorities, it was the last of its kind in the city, but its finances were tumultuous from the start.  The civil rights movement had already worked to make minority hospitals a thing of the past, so almost everyone was going to the larger, cheaper facilities.

With the shoestring budget continuing to tank, cost-cutting measures got so risky that the equipment, often borrowed from other companies on a pay-later basis, would be repossessed while patients were in the room.  Another patient, in critical condition, was almost denied the medication to save his life because the hospital hadn’t paid its bills to the pharmaceutical company.  The man only survived because the hospital administrator paid for the medication with a personal check.

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So where was New Center’s budget going?

One example: chairman Tom Barrow was running for mayor of Detroit in 1989, constantly having to deflect criticism during his election over his poor management of the hospital.  $62,000 meant to be spent on hospital advertising went instead to his campaign, which he lost.  He went to prison for 18 months in 1993 for fraud and corruption, but the charges were eventually overturned and he went on to run for mayor in 2009 and 2013.

Dr. Ramsay Dass, moved by the plight of the struggling neighborhood, pooled money with friends and family to purchase and renovate the disgraced hospital, which he renamed Renaissance Hospital and intended for psychiatric purposes.  But, due to the building’s condition and finances, the Detroit Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency severed its main source of funding, and Renaissance was forced to close in 1999.

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So until 2005, Dr. Dass ran a small clinic out of the first floor of the building, putting another six years and $3.2 million to get the building up to code.  Then, the hospital was reopened as Detroit Hope, as explained by this quote found in DetroitUrbex’s article: “Renaissance was a difficult name to spell or pronounce to lots of uneducated people in Detroit. So we said what is the most important thing? Hope. It’s a good, positive four-letter word.”

But new cost-saving measures didn’t meet the Department of Community Health’s standards when it came to staffing requirements, and this loss of license shut the facility down permanently.

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Expectations for reuse of the campus meant that a ton of medical equipment had been left behind for its next incarnation, but soaring scrap metal values ensured that would never come to pass.  The guards were laid off when the property went into tax foreclosure, and word spread quickly of the thousands of dollars in equipment and scrap metal in a now unguarded building.  Though the beds were still made in these photographs, they had been taken just after the property went through forclosure, eliminating the guards.  Scrap metal value was at an all-time high, so the building, and the  medical equipment, were decimated within the month.

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What was left of Detroit Hope Hospital was demolished in 2014.

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(These photos were taken, edited, watermarked, and posted to Tumblr in 2013.  Due to hard drive failure, they were later mostly lost.  Self-teaching means often learning things the hard way, including the importance of making backups.  But if you’re inclined, follow the watermarks to my tumblr, where I’ve been posting for much longer.)
Source: DHH on DetroitUrbex

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