HealthNewsPoliticsThe NorthSider

Aldermen rebuke choice of Homer G. Phillips name for new medical facility

CITY HALL – The Board of Aldermen has taken a stand against the potential use of the name of the old Homer G. Phillips Hospital for a small new medical center in north St. Louis.

At the meeting of the full board on Friday, the aldermen passed a resolution rebuking the developer’s plan to use the name of the venerable hospital, which was opened in 1937 and closed in 1979.

The aldermen praised the plan for a new medical facility in the area. But the board called the name “Homer G. Phillips” a neighborhood icon and asset “best kept in the Ville Neighborhood.” Aldermen warned that the name “should not be inappropriately culturally appropriated.”

The hospital, designed by architect Albert Osburg, opened six years after the death of Homer G. Phillips, a Black lawyer in St. Louis who advocated for and donated to its establishment. Black residents of the city had been calling for such a hospital, citing a lack of adequate health care and medical training for African Americans.

The hospital quickly gained a high ranking among the ten largest general hospitals in the country and was acknowledged as a leader in the treatment of acutely injured patients. 

It was one of the few nationally recognized, fully equipped hospitals in the country where Black doctors, nurses and technicians could receive training.

In 1979, a wide range of complex issues prompted its closure as a full-service facility. In the 1990s, the nurses’ wing was renovated into low-income housing; and in 2004, the hospital was reopened as the Homer G. Phillips Dignity House, a residential care facility for the elderly.

After the passage of Resolution 138 by the board, Mayor Tishaura Jones and U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis, responded with a joint statement urging the developer to change the proposed name of the new facility.

“Profiting off of Homer G. Phillips’ name on a small 3-bed facility that will fail to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities is an insult to Homer G. Phillips’ legacy and the Black community,” they said.

Staff

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