Henry Ford stood at the center of the manufacturing revolution after he established the Ford Motor Company in 1903. People flooded to Detroit in search of employment, and the swelling population meant rapidly growing health-care needs. In 1909, the Detroit General Hospital Association, of which Ford was the finance chairman, set out to build a new hospital for the working man. When support and funding for the project plummeted in 1914, construction on the new building halted.
At that point, Ford stepped in and assumed the outstanding debt and contracts for construction. In October 1915, Henry Ford Hospital opened with ten physicians, and an initial group of 48 patients. The hospital pioneered many new methods of operation, including employing the first closed staff of salaried physicians who worked exclusively for the hospital. It was also one of the first hospitals to use a standard fee schedule, and to offer private and semi-private rooms to patients instead of large wards.
The hospital continued to grow in succeeding decades and continued to innovate. It popularized the practice of adding iodine to kitchen salt to prevent endemic goiters. The Ford Hospital pioneered administration of purified heparin to treat vein clots. It developed the oxygen tent to assist respiration. In 1952, one of its doctors performed one of the world’s first grafts of an aneurysm. Four years later, another performed the first successful open-heart surgery in Michigan. Today, the hospital is the flagship institution of the Henry Ford Health System.