Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues
Historic Riverside Provides Care for Underserved Community
Houston- For Activist and Freedom Fighter Quannel X, the fight to keep Riverside Hospital from closing its doors is personal.
His commitment and crusade to fight for the hospital is based on the fact that the hospital played a huge role in helping save his mother’s life.
“I am leading this campaign because I remember as a child how Riverside helped my mother as she battled with mental health and chemical dependency issues,” said Quannel X, who leads the New Black Panther Party in Houston. “Punishing a community and destroying a hospital that provided valuable service to the community and the poor is absolutely and completely unacceptable.”
He is planning a series of protests aimed at bringing attention to the plight of the hospital and its priceless value to the community.
Riverside Hospital was the first nonprofit hospital for black patients. Known then as the Houston Negro Hospital, today it is the only remaining Black hospital of its kind in the United States.
Quannel X said he is also concerned about its historic link to the Black history and the Black community and how its loss would affect the current positive work of helping those underserved citizens who cannot afford healthcare.
The hospital is struggling and could close in six weeks unless it can get needed funds released from the federal government used to operate the facility.
The problem stems from a 2012 investigation involving a hospital executive and his scheme involving the fraudulent use of $116 in Medicaid funds.
“This involved a witch hunt dealing with one man,” he said. “Do not punish this whole community over this. This hospital is valuable and provides a great service to its community and is one of a kind and we will do all we can to keep it open.”
In 1918, in answer to an appeal for assistance from several black doctors,(R.O. Roett, Charles Jackson, B.J. Covington, Henry E. Lee and F. F. Stone) Joseph S. Cullinan, a Houston philanthropist, established a fund to erect a fifty-bed hospital. Maurice J. Sullivan was hired as an architect. Sullivan was commissioned to design the new hospital, as well as to develop a master plan for the site. Construction began in 1925.
The Houston Negro Hospital holds a particularly significant place in the history of both the Black community and medical community in Houston and Texas.
The Hospital provided a place for well trained Black physicians to work, who were not allowed to admit patients to the “Black Wards” of Houston’s other hospitals.
At the onset, the entire staff was Black, and only Black Physicians practiced at the Houston Negro Hospital. Two of the most prominent and most respected early doctors were Benjamin C. Covington and Rupert O. Roett, who graduated from Meharry Medical School.
The first Board of Directors was made up of local black businessmen, supported by an Advisory Council of prominent white Houstonians.
Riverside General Hospital has extensive experience in providing Level I (Medical Detoxification), Level II, (Residential) and Level III (Outpatient) substance abuse treatment programs for adults, adolescents and women with their children.
Clients are introduced to models of recovery and are involved in 12-Step Support Groups.
Beginning in 1972, Riverside was a pioneer in treating chemical dependency as a medical component addressing both addiction and mental health disorders.
Commitment to Caring
Beginning in 1995, Riverside General Hospital–being committed to serving the ever growing population, purchased the Houston Recovery Campus(re-named the Barbara Jordan Healthcare Facility) and the defunct Shoulder’s Treatment Center(now named the Edith Irby Jones Healthcare Center.
These purchases made substance abuse treatment available in three strategic locations throughout Harris County(Central, Southeast and Northeast) which continuously serves the Medically Underserved Areas and populations.
Riverside is in a unique position of possessing the history, the infrastructure and talent to serve individual and families in environments which are socially and economically depressed.
The hospital position has earned us a place of trust and respect among the people.
Longevity in the community has made their presence known and care is readily accessible to the people.
Riverside’s proud history of service, dedication to quality, and commitment has positioned itself to continue to be a major entity providing services to the community, particularly ethnic minorities and the medically underserved.