MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A Mid-South African-American hospital with rootsdating back to the early 1900s is on the path to a re-birth.
Collins Chapel Connectional Hospital, operated by the ChristianMethodist Episcopal Church is looking to reopen with a full renovation by theFall of 2021, but it still needs $3 million to make it happen.
Next week, there will be a reunion event, and anyone who receivedservice there or worked there is invited.
In the early 1900s, Collins Chapel Connectional Hospital was theonly place African-Americans could receive health care and blacks couldpractice medicine. Religious leaders are working with state, county andcity officials to restore this African-American Historical Landmark.
“From the ground up, we built this as a national effort andwe’re grateful that the CME church started it, but other black churches wereinvolved too,” said Bishop Henry Williamson, from the Christian MethodistEpiscopal Church.
Bishop Williamson remembers the days when this place was filledwith people receiving affordable health care: prominent Memphians like USCongressman Harold Ford Sr. and Dr. Andrea Lewis-Miller, President of LeMoyneOwen College.
“Under legal segregation or apartheid, we couldn’t receivehealth care services from the main hospitals, and neither could black doctorsand nurses practice,” Bishop Williamson said.
The hospital moved to Ayers Avenue in Uptown during the height ofracial segregation in the 1950s, closed, and then reopened as a nursingfacility licensed by the state of Tennessee.
“The underserved and the poor who cannot get servicesanywhere else. Who can’t afford it, we would make that one of our toppriorities,” Bishop Williamson said.
Within the past 5 years, efforts have been made to get thehospital back open.
“We’re thankful that Mayor Jim Strickland and his departmentput a new roof on the clinic side, which is our dental side,” said BishopWilliamson.
The City of Memphis Housing and Development Department investedmore than $100,000. CME obtained a $2 million loan from Regions Bank, butthere is still a need.
40-50 percent of the renovation is complete.
“We’re in the middle of the medical community, two blocksaway the VA, Regional One, Methodist, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, St.Jude,” Bishop Williamson explained.
The Black History Month event is expected to attract persons who were born there, including patients and medical professionals who were trained at the African-American landmark. It’s February 22 from 10:00 a.m. until Noon. If you’re interested in donating to the cause, CLICK HERE.