Health Care and Nonprofits

Hospital governing body earns induction into Women's Hall of Fame

August 22, 2016
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Mary Free Bed Susan Ford Bales center pink Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Center dedication
Susan Ford Bales, wearing a pink cardigan in the center, poses with Mary Free Bed staff during the official dedication of the hospital's Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program. Courtesy Mary Free Bed

The governing body of a local hospital is being inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

The Mary Free Bed Guild is one of six inductees that will be recognized during the Oct. 19 induction ceremony in East Lansing at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

The guild governs the operations of the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, which is the fifth largest free-standing rehabilitation hospital in the country.

The Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame promotes women’s equality by honoring their history and celebrating their accomplishments.

The Mary Free Bed Guild was founded in 1891 when a small group of Grand Rapids women established an endowed bed to help those with limited resources pay for health care.

They passed a purse and asked anyone named Mary, or anyone who knew someone named Mary, to donate a dime. It was the most common women’s name in 1891, and donations supported the first “Mary free bed” at a local hospital.

Carol Springer, Mary Free Bed Guild president, said the organization is “humbled,” by the honor.

She said the 120 women who make up the guild will continue to “provide leading-edge rehabilitation services and create a community where children and adults, regardless of their abilities, enjoy activities and camaraderie.”

Five other inductees will be honored this fall: Dr. Anan Ameri of Detroit, founding director of the Arab American National Museum; the Rev. Faith Fowler of Detroit, founder and executive director of Cass Community Social Services; Dr. Olivia Letts of Lansing, the first black woman hired to teach in the Lansing School District; Diana Ross of Detroit, a Motown legend named “Female Entertainer of the 20th Century” by Billboard magazine; and Lou Anna Kimsey Simon of East Lansing, the first woman president of Michigan State University.

More information on the inductees and ceremony details, including ticket information, is online.

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