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First African-American Cardiologist

February 1, 2012 by staff 

First African-American Cardiologist, Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1858 – August 4, 1931) was an American surgeon. He was the first African-American cardiologist,and performed one of the first successful open-heart surgeries in the United States. He also founded Provident Hospital, the first non-segregated hospital in the United States.
Williams was among the first to have performed cardiac surgery. Earlier surgeries on the pericardium were performed by Francisco Romero in 1801, Dominique Jean Larrey prior to 1850, and by Henry Dalton in 1891. Also in 1891, he started the Provident Hospital and training school for nurses in Chicago, Illinois. This was established mostly for African-American citizens. In 1893 he repaired the torn pericardium of a knife wound patient, James Cornish, the second on record. He performed this surgery at Provident Hospital, Chicago, on 10 July 1893 About fifty-five days later, James Cornish had successfully recovered from the surgery.

In 1893, during the administration of President Grover Cleveland, Williams was appointed surgeon-in-chief of Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.. In addition to organizing the hospital, Williams also established a training school for African-American nurses at the facility.

Williams was a teacher of Clinical Surgery at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and was an attending surgeon at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He worked to create more hospitals and accessibility for African Americans. In 1895 he co-founded the National Medical Association for African American doctors, and in 1913 he became a charter member and the only African American doctor in the American College of Surgeons.

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