for WMUK 102.1 FM
Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.
This week's guest: Larry Massie
|Old postcards of Borgess Hospital|
When the doors of the jail shut on the young man, the officers who arrested him thought he was just another young drunk. He wasn’t. He was sick. In fact, he was mortally ill. Within another day the young man died for lack of medical care and the Last Rites of the Catholic Church were administered to him by Father Francis O’Brien.
That was in the early 1880's when Kalamazoo was a bustling town of 17,000 people but didn't have a hospital of its own. Other Michigan cities had them but in Kalamazoo the sick were as likely to end up in jail as see a doctor. The incident with the young man who died moved Father O’Brien and he shared the story with his good friend and mentor Bishop Borgess in Detroit. Borgess was also moved and responded by donating $5,000 to establish Kalamazoo’s first hospital.
Michigan historian Larry Massie began writing about the history of what became Borgess Health about three years ago. The health system commissioned him to create Health Care Anew: The First 125 Years of Borgess Health. The book tells the story of how Kalamazoo’s first hospital was built, its growth pains, and the challenges it faced over the years. Borgess Medical Center at 1521 Gull Road in Kalamazoo also has other affiliated medical care facilities around southwest Michigan. Borgess today is a member of Ascension Health, the largest Catholic non-profit health system in the United States.
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