Women’s Hospital

Women’s Hospital

In October, 1945, the Board of Regents approved a recommendation to ask the legislature for an appropriation of $1,000,000 for the construction of a maternity hospital (Regent's Proceedings, 1945-48, p. 119). The building was authorized early in 1946.

Ground was broken in March, 1947. Then, at the joint request of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, after $100,000 had been spent the work had to be suspended owing to lack of funds. It was not until May, 1948, that an economy-conscious legislature finally provided $1,645,000 for the building. Yet no single unit in the University building program was ever more desperately needed than the Womenʼs Hospital. The old building, erected in 1904 for other purposes, was outmoded, ramshackle, and overcrowded and was properly termed “a disgrace to the state” by former Governor Kim Sigler.

Construction was resumed in June, 1948, and completed in January, 1950. The total appropriation for the Hospital was $1,750,000, of which $100,000 was set aside for furnishings. The final cost was $1,725,000.

In accordance with the University Hospitalʼs dual purpose as an educational center for medical and nursing students, as well as a hospital proper, the new Womenʼs Hospital unit combined outpatient and inpatient service with facilities for the teaching of obstetrics and gynecology. There were also facilities for research in large and well equipped laboratories.

Open house was held early in February, 1950. All patients and babies were transferred from the old Maternity unit and admitted to the new Womenʼs Hospital on February 14, 1950.

Situated just east of the main Hospital, this beautiful brick building accommodated seventy-seven mothers and eighty-two babies, in contrast to the old structure where only thirty-five mothers and thirty babies could be taken care of.

The obstetric outpatient clinic, on the main floor, included six examining rooms, two offices for doctors, an infantsʼ examining room, and a special waiting room for mothers returning for the postnatal care of the babies. On the east side opposite the entrance, was a staff room, a classroom, a library, and laboratories.  Also on the main floor was the Norman R. Kretzschmar Galens Memorial Room. This beautiful lounge for medical students was furnished with funds provided by the Galens Society and by associates of Dr. Kretzschmar, who died on May 5, 1943.

The building housed obstetrical patients and babies on the second and third floors and gynecological patients on the third floor. The modern delivery-room section on the second floor included nursesʼ station, six labor rooms, two delivery rooms, and one operating room.

The delivery rooms had stainless delivery and operating tables, which were installed at a cost of about $1,000 each. In the ceilings were flush panel lights, and one wall of each delivery and operating room was of opaque glass block to provide complete illumination. The delivery rooms had explosion-proof electric switches, automatic clocks and special timing apparatus, and ducts for automatically piped-in oxygen and air pressure. This section also included a “scrub” area for doctors and a utility room for sterilizing instruments.

The central east-west corridor connecting the delivery room section to the east part of the building, which contained many of the rooms for patients, had decentralized nurseries. These were situated so that the mothers were housed in four-bed or private rooms at each side of the rooms where the babies were cared for. Patients in those rooms could watch their babies through connecting windows, an arrangement to keep mothers and babies together from the earliest possible moment. The second floor also had a laboratory, a treatment room, a four-bassinet nursery for premature babies, a room where mothers were instructed in the care of babies, a nursing station, and a special waiting room for harried fathers.

The third floor of the Hospital contained twenty-one rooms for forty-six patients and four nurseries equipped with thirty bassinets. The wards and all of the rooms were decorated in soft shades of blue, green, yellow, and tan, a welcome departure from the customary clinical white color scheme. Each bedroom had self-adjustable beds and special lighting and signal facilities.

The fourth floor, which was devoted to housing for doctors on call and for medical and postgraduate students, had accommodations for sixteen persons, as well as a lounge and kitchenette.

Ruth Gjelsness (The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, p. 1633)


First Maternity Ward (1908-1925)

Maternity Ward (1925-1950)
Original Ophthalmology Otology Building (1904 - 1925)

Women’s Hospital (1950)

Women’s Hospital - University Hospital (Old Main)

Women’s Hospital (1) Mott Children’s Hospital (2) Outpatient Building (3)

Women’s Hospital - Replacement Hospital