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Black History: Special Delivery!!


August 6, 2015

Georgia Infirmary: First Hospital For African Americans

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

Georgia Infirmary
Georgia Infirmary

The Georgia Infirmary, chartered on December 24, 1832, was the first hospital for African Americans built in the United States. It purpose was, “for the relief and protection of aged and afflicted Africans”.

It was started with a $10,000 grant from the estate of Thomas F. Williams a local businessman and minister. Poor health care and their strenuous life often meant that slaves and ex-slaves had significant health issues. Many were abandoned by their owners when they were no longer able to work. The original idea was that the slave owners would pay for the care of the slaves. When the infirmary opened, the state provided $20 per patient per year as additional funding.

The hospital’s operation was interrupted by the Civil War. However, it re-opened in 1871. The infirmary was one of the first hospitals in the nation to train black nurses. During the 1940’s the hospital was expanded to meet a growing demand for services that resulted from an increase in the number of black workers due to World War II. In 1974 it was renamed the “Adult Day Center.” It now provides rehabilitation for stroke patients.

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Hazel Johnson-Brown: 1st African American Woman Brigadier General

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

Hazel Johnson-Brown
Hazel Johnson-Brown

Born in 1927, Hazel Johnson-Brown was the first African-American woman to be a Brigadier General in the United States Military in 1979. She joined the army in 1955 shortly after President Truman banned segregation in the armed services.

Hazel Johnson-Brown was one of 7 children. She was raised on her father’s farm in West Chester, PA. Inspired by a public health nurse at the age of 12, she decided that she too wanted to become a nurse one day. Her application to the West Chester School of Nursing in Pennsylvania was rejected because she was black. Undeterred, she moved to New York in 1947 and enrolled in Harlem Hospital School of Nursing. She graduated and took a job at Philadelphia Veteran’s Hospital in 1953. It was there that her co-workers encouraged her to join the Army. She initially enlisted for what she thought would be a two year tour. She excelled and quickly began to rise through the ranks.

Hazel Johnson-Brown - Receiving Rank of Brigadier General
Hazel Johnson-Brown – Receiving Rank of Brigadier General

She continued her education while in the army, eventually earning a masters degree in nursing education from Columbia University and a Ph.D in education administration from Catholic University. She retired from military service in 1983 and then pursued a second career in academia teaching at George Mason University and Georgetown University. She retired from academia in 1997. She currently lives in Washington D.C. area.

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