By JIM SALTER Related Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Whereas segregation nonetheless forged its ugly shadow over America, Homer G. Phillips Hospital offered world-class medical care to a predominantly African-American a part of St. Louis and educated a few of the greatest black medical doctors of the world. nurses
The 660-bed hospital closed 43 years in the past, however the metropolis’s black neighborhood nonetheless reveres the ability named after the person who led the battle to open a world-class hospital for black residents in segregated St. Louis. So a white developer’s determination to call a brand new three-bed facility Homer G. Phillips Memorial Hospital has confronted a backlash that features a lawsuit, protests and newspaper editorials decrying what some see as cultural appropriation.
“That smacks of racism to me,” mentioned Zenobia Thompson, 78, who educated at Homer G. Phillips Hospital within the Sixties earlier than turning into its head nurse. “We’re laser centered and decided to let that title go down.”
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Darryl Piggee, a black legal professional who sits on the board of administrators for the brand new hospital anticipated to open subsequent spring, mentioned it was his concept to call it after Phillips, to honor his legacy, not revenue from it.
“I am from right here, okay? So the concept that it was an appropriation will not be true,” Piggee mentioned. “I believe the board is happy that we’re placing out the title of somebody that folks ought to find out about.”
The brand new hospital, which is situated in a distinct part of northern St. Louis than the location of the outdated hospital, is a part of developer Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration challenge. Funded partly with practically $400 million in tax enhance financing, NorthSide seeks to rework a blighted space north of downtown with new housing, industrial tasks and job-creating trade.
The hospital is a small however needed a part of improvement. Well being care is scarce in north St. Louis, the place about three-quarters of residents are black and the median family revenue is 40% beneath the poverty line.
St. Louis’s main black newspaper, the St. Louis American, famous in an editorial that it didn’t object to the brand new medical middle “however to the insensitivity proven by the developer to neighborhood concern over its appropriation of the title of one of many essentially the most sacred and esteemed establishments of the black neighborhood.”
In July, Thompson and different nurses who labored on the unique Homer G. Phillips Hospital filed a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement. The swimsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a brand new title for the middle.
Homer G. Phillips was a distinguished black lawyer who led the battle a century in the past for a brand new St. Louis hospital for black residents in what was then probably the most segregated cities in America.
Passage of a bond challenge offered the funds, and the brand new hospital opened in 1937. Phillips didn’t reside to see the hospital that may bear his title: he was shot and killed in 1931 in an assault that is still unsolved.
Dr. Will Ross, a doctor and affiliate dean for variety on the College of Washington College of Medication and co-author of a e-book on the legacy of Homer G. Phillips Hospital, mentioned it was the “well being, social and financial anchor” out of your neighborhood.
Walle Amusa, a longtime Black activist, recalled how the neighborhood across the hospital prospered. Dozens of companies served the nurses, medical doctors, workers and guests. Nicely-maintained brick homes surrounded the hospital.
“It was like a household affair inside that hospital, and it was like a household neighborhood outdoors,” recalled Jobyna Foster, 86, a nurse for a few years on the hospital.
Thompson agreed. She grew up within the neighborhood and remembered seeing the nurses stroll proudly of their white uniforms.
“That is once I determined to be a nurse,” she mentioned.
Segregation created the necessity for the hospital, and lots of within the black neighborhood say racism spelled its demise.
The 2 city-run hospitals have been damaged up within the Fifties. For the following 20 years, Homer G. Phillips remained open and continued to thrive, mentioned Yvonne Jones, 75, who was a nurse there on the time.
Nonetheless, within the late Seventies, metropolis leaders determined that two city-run hospitals have been now not wanted and ordered Homer G. Phillips closed, permitting the one within the white St. Louis space to stay open. . Amusa was one among tons of of people that shaped a human blockade to cease the removing of sufferers and gear from Homer G. Phillips, nevertheless it didn’t work and the hospital closed in 1979, six years earlier than the opposite city-run hospital closed. .
In the present day, the huge brown brick constructing that housed Homer G. Phillips nonetheless stands and serves as senior housing. The world round him has seen troublesome instances. There are few companies close by, and many homes are vacant and dilapidated, with damaged home windows and sagging roofs. Crime is widespread and poverty permeates.
“When the hospital was closed it was just like the dying sentence for the neighborhood,” mentioned Amusa.
Piggee mentioned the brand new medical middle and the NorthSide Regeneration challenge typically will assist revitalize North St. Louis.
NorthSide Regeneration has had its stops and begins since its launch a decade and a half in the past. Some north St. Louis residents have complained that the tons of of parcels of land bought by the developer are a nuisance, with little signal of progress. McKee didn’t reply to messages in search of remark.
However a brand new fuel station and grocery retailer have opened as a part of the challenge. Probably the most notable success was the federal authorities’s determination to construct a $1.75 billion campus for the Nationwide Geospatial-Intelligence Company on practically 100 acres (40 hectares) inside the boundaries of NorthSide Regeneration, creating hundreds of good-paying jobs. It’s anticipated to open in 2025.
The brand new facility is situated a few blocks from the NGA web site. Hospital president Fred Mills sees it as an important a part of McKee’s plan for the world.
Mills, who spent many years main bigger hospitals, mentioned Homer G. Phillips Memorial will provide 24-hour emergency room care with the capability to deal with as much as 15 sufferers at a time. The 15,500-square-foot facility consists of an MRI machine and facilities like ports that supply quick access to emergency dialysis and a room designed to make sure folks with behavioral problems are secure.
Builders have mentioned plans finally name for enlargement that would embrace a medical college, housing, a resort and workplace area.
“Our dream and objective is to have a much bigger facility, however it’s important to begin someplace,” Mills mentioned.
Jones, who’s president of the Homer G. Phillips Nurses’ Alumni, agreed that the brand new facility is badly wanted. She simply desires it to be referred to as one thing else.
“We wish to shield the title and legacy of Homer G. Phillips by eradicating the present title from that constructing,” Jones mentioned. “That is all we wish.”
Piggee mentioned there are not any plans to alter the title.
“I perceive your perspective, however we simply do not agree,” he mentioned. “I hope we will transfer on.”
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