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  1. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931) --- Pioneering Surgeon, Founder of Provident Hospital Daniel Hale Williams was a pioneering surgeon who performed one of the world's first surgical procedures on the human heart. He was also at the forefront of the modernization of healthcare, adopting the then controversial and then radical hygienic practices recommended by the radical Loius Pasteur and Joseph Lister. Daniel H Williams hailed from humble roots, the eighth child of a barber, Daniel Hale Williams Sr. When his father died, Williams was sent to live with family in Baltimore and then Illinois. While in Illinois he became a shoemaker's apprentice and barber. In 1878, Williams worked in the office of Henry Palmer, a surgeon. This experience triggered an interest in medicine, and in 1880 he enrolled in the Chicago Medical College, receiving a Doctor of Medicine degree three years later. Upon graduation Williams opened a medical practice in Chicago and also taught anatomy at Chicago Medical College. Williams eagerly embraced innovative techniques in medical procedures and sanitary conditions, adopting recently-discovered sterilization procedures in regard to germ transmission and prevention. Yet, despite his talent, he, like other African American physicians of the era, faced discrimination with regard to staffing privileges at hospitals. To circumvent this discrimination, in 1891 Williams co-founded Provident Hospital and Training School Association in a three-story building on Chicago’s South Side. Provident was the first African American-controlled hospital in the nation. In addition to being the first medical facility to have an interracial staff and the first training facility for African American nurses in the US., Provident was also one of the most modern and cutting edge hospitals not just in America but in the world. Provident grew and prospered during Williams’s tenure as physician-owner (1891-1912), in large part because of its extremely high success rate in patient recovery: 87 percent. In 1893, Williams boldly performed open heart surgery on a young African man, James Cornish, who had received severe stab wounds in his chest. Despite having a limited array of surgical equipment and medicine (no anesthesia, no blood transfusion), Williams opened Cornish’s chest cavity and operated on his heart without the patient dying from infection. Cornish recovered within 51 days and went on to live for many years. Williams' reputation for excellence to his appointment as Chief Surgeon at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. Freedmen's had been created to serve the newly emancipated African Americans who had flooded into the nation's capital in the wake of the Civil War. Williams reorganized the struggling Freedmen’s Hospital, instituting a training school for black nurses, employing a multiracial staff, improving surgical procedures, developing ambulance services, and providing staff opportunities for numerous black physicians. In 1895 Williams was one of the co-founders the National Medical Association (NMA), an organization founded in response to the all-white American Medical Association's exclusion of African American physicians. In 1898, Williams left Freedmen’s Hospital, married Washington, D.C. schoolteacher Alice Johnson, and returned with her to Chicago where he resumed his position at Provident Hospital. A year after settling in Chicago, Williams became affiliated with Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where for the next two decades he was a visiting clinical surgeon. He was also now invited to work at larger hospitals including Cook County Hospital, and at St. Luke’s Hospital on Chicago’s South Side from 1907 to 1926. In 1926, Williams retired from St. Luke’s after surviving a debilitating stroke. He lived out his retirement years in Idlewild, Michigan, an all-black resort community, until his death on August 4, 1931.