National Hospital Association

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National Hospital Association


The National Hospital Association (NHA) was established in August 1923 by the National Medical Association at its annual meeting in St. Louis. The parent body founded this new auxiliary organization to coordinate and guide its efforts in African-American hospital reform. The NHA's specific goals included the standardization of black hospitals and of the curricula at black nurse-training schools, the establishment of additional black hospitals, and the provision of more internships for black physicians.

African-American medical leaders' concerns that the growing importance of hospital standardization and accreditation would lead to the elimination of black hospitals prompted their establishment of the NHA. They recognized that many black hospitals were inferior institutions that were ineligible for approval by certifying agencies. But these facilities were critical to the careers of African-American physicians and, in many locations, to the lives of black patients. The NHA sought to improve black hospitals by attempting to ensure proper standards of education and efficiency in them. Therefore, one of its first actions was to issue in 1925 a set of minimum standards for its member hospitals. These standards included criteria on hospital supervision, record keeping, and the operation of nurse-training schools. Compared to the guidelines of the larger and more influential American College of Surgeons, these were rudimentary. Nonetheless, the NHA hoped that its efforts would forestall the closure of African-American hospitals and demonstrate to white physicians that their black colleagues could keep abreast of changes in medical and hospital practice.

Other activities of the NHA included the provision of technical assistance to hospitals, the sponsorship of professional conferences, and the publication of literature promoting proper hospital administration. The association also lobbied major health-care organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Hospital Association, urging them to take on a role in the improvement of black hospitals.

The NHA was a short-lived organization with limited effectiveness. It never had a full-time administrator or a permanent office. During its first ten years Knoxville physician H. M. Green served as its president while maintaining a busy medical practice. The NHA ran entirely on modest membership fees and often operated at a deficit. It never received financial or programmatic support from foundations or other health-care organizations. It lacked the financial and political muscle to implement and enforce its policies and failed to convince many black physicians of the importance of its goals. By the early 1940s the NHA had disbanded.

Despite these limitations the NHA played a significant role in African-American medical history. It provided black physicians and nurses with opportunities to learn about and discuss trends in hospital care. And it helped the National Medical Association to publicize and articulate the plight of black physicians, their patients, and their hospitals at a time when few outlets for voicing such concerns existed.

See also Nursing

Bibliography

Gamble, Vanessa Northington. "The Negro Hospital Renaissance: The Black Hospital Movement." In The American General Hospital: Communities and Social Contexts, edited by Diana E. Long and Janet Golden, pp. 182205. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Green, H. M. "Some Observations on and Lessons from the Experience of the Past Ten Years." Journal of the National Medical Association 26 (1934): 2124.

vanessa northington gamble (1996)

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National Hospital Association