MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A Mid-South African-American hospital with roots dating back to the early 1900s is on the path to a re-birth.
Collins Chapel Connectional Hospital, operated by the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church is looking to reopen with a full renovation by the Fall of 2021, but it still needs $3 million to make it happen.
Next week, there will be a reunion event, and anyone who received service there or worked there is invited.
In the early 1900s, Collins Chapel Connectional Hospital was the only place African-Americans could receive health care and blacks could practice medicine. Religious leaders are working with state, county and city officials to restore this African-American Historical Landmark.
“From the ground up, we built this as a national effort and we’re grateful that the CME church started it, but other black churches were involved too,” said Bishop Henry Williamson, from the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
Bishop Williamson remembers the days when this place was filled with people receiving affordable health care: prominent Memphians like US Congressman Harold Ford Sr. and Dr. Andrea Lewis-Miller, President of LeMoyne Owen College.
“Under legal segregation or apartheid, we couldn’t receive health care services from the main hospitals, and neither could black doctors and nurses practice,” Bishop Williamson said.
The hospital moved to Ayers Avenue in Uptown during the height of racial segregation in the 1950s, closed, and then reopened as a nursing facility licensed by the state of Tennessee.
“The underserved and the poor who cannot get services anywhere else. Who can’t afford it, we would make that one of our top priorities,” Bishop Williamson said.
Within the past 5 years, efforts have been made to get the hospital back open.
“We’re thankful that Mayor Jim Strickland and his department put a new roof on the clinic side, which is our dental side,” said Bishop Williamson.
The City of Memphis Housing and Development Department invested more than $100,000. CME obtained a $2 million loan from Regions Bank, but there is still a need.
40-50 percent of the renovation is complete.
“We’re in the middle of the medical community, two blocks away 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.