The Lost Synagogues of Detroit » SINAI HOSPITAL
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Lowell (admin)
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Post Number: 140
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 12:58 am

Tell us about this site! The following memories were previously contributed by email. To add your memories simply scroll to the bottom where you will find the "Add Your Message Here" posting box. Write your message, put any name you wish in the username box and click Preview/Post Message. [No password needed]
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It's strange to see Sinai empty and abandoned. It must cost a heller amount for them to keep it at a minimally functional level. I figured someone would have reopened it by now...
I was born at Sinai in 1962, and had 3 major surgeries there, most recently in 1998. My understanding was that DMC (Detroit Medical Centers), which owned both Sinai and Grace hospitals, hit major financial trouble during this time. Many DMC centers were closed in the 1990's, including a large DMC center on Van Dyke in Sterling Heights, as well as many smaller buildings. Sinai was unfortunately chosen because it was the older of the two hospitals (Grace being the other).

I hope someday another group, better managed and financed than DMC, will come along and reopen Sinai. It seems a huge waste, all that property, those buildings, and no one using them.

By the way, some of the buildings on-site are still used, like the Hechtman Center.


My son was born there only 6 yrs ago. Such a shame for the building to go to waste when so many people need medical care and a place to live.


I grew up two blocks from Sinai Hospital. My first job was as a candy-striper there in the medical records department. We used to walk our dog on the lawn as seen in the view from Outer Drive. My girlfriend and I used to babysit for the children of the hospital interns when we were teenagers.


I have memories of Sinai even though I am only 19 years old. This was much of my family's main hospital. I remember going there and spending countless hours, in the waiting rooms and with my dad when he had his second open heart surgery in 1991, still a great place with great doctors and nurses. Many births of cousins and other relatives. This hospital and Beaumont in Royal Oak were the two main hospitals for the jewish community to go to in the late 20th century, however this one had a special place in jewish people's hearts because it was built for them.


My grandpa was in Sinai in the early 1970s when he had cancer of the jaw. My grandparents lived in Lincoln Park, we lived in Wyandotte, neither of us ventured into Detroit very often. I remember feeling guilty because I was excited about being in Detroit, during a time when I was supposed to be sad. To us Downriver Rats, Sinai looked incomparably majestic.


Sinai Hospital was bought out by the Detroit Medical Center about 5 years ago. Then for cost cutting they combined Grace Hospital And Sinai into Sinai-Grace Hospital using the Grace facility. Sinai could not survive on its own due to lower insurance Reimbursements and the fact that many of the Jewish patrons had Moved up Southfield Fwy and Northwestern Hwy out of Detroit and The once flourishing Outer Drive area.


Sinai Hospital of Detroit was like no other hospital in Detroit. It was a place where sick people went to get healed with the philosophy "to save a single life is to save the world!" In 1990, Michigan healthcare statistics revealed it had the lowest morbidity of any Michigan hospital. My first job as a pharmacist was at Sinai; skills learned that established a successful professional career for me. Sinai saved my fathers' life in 1995 through an aggressive ventilator wein program like no other...none. I always felt rich driving every morning onto the plush campus to work and then greet such dedicated, intelligent co-workers. Legend had it that when the original founding fathers met to select a location, one futurist wanted then to build at 13 and Woodward (site of Beaumont!) but the Jewish community was at Outer Drive/Sheaffer...the rest is history. Internal turmoil boiled over through the 1990's when Sinai wanted to sell, it appears it literally became a feeding frenzy by all parties and the actual physcical plant took the beating! Another theory has it that "a patient felt they were mistreated in about 1997 and the DMC quickly rectified the situation and closed the original Sinai to keep the press happy." I don't know, others felt the ICU's needed remodeling etc. We all lost when Sinai disbanded, it's more than a building, it's a serious loss for all of us requiring healthcare. Lastly, go right ahead and believe it, it's like the future shock reality of American healthcare. Sadly this mess was associated with the Jewish community of Detroit whom bankrolled decades of losses to preserve the Sinai Hospital of Detroit.


I lived in the Detroit area in the mid 1970's and received very good medical care at Sinai. I am shocked to see it closed and abandoned. However, it is symbolic of so many of the social ills facing Detroit. It is a tragic situation to see a once great city implode. Sinai is, evidently, one of many abandoned structures in that city and, I suspect, Sinai's future is exceedingly bleak. It will become another Detroit ruin.
-- JF

I worked at Sinai Hospital for about 18 years as a Pharmacist. I am retired now and relocated to my old home in Mississippi.

It was, for the most part, the best pharmacy job I ever had and the Jewish people were friendly and very fair. One of my sons and my daughter were born at Sinai.
-- James "Tom" Pinkerton

When I got out of the Navy, at the age of twenty one! Where for three plus years, I had been a Hospital Corpman! Primarily worked in Emergency room! I was equivalent to a medical technician in the service! However unlike other States, Michigan did not recognize this. Nor did they offer any state tests to obtain any type of certifcation. So my first job was as an Orderly at Sinai Hospital on West Outer Drive. New additition construction was constantly going on. I worked as an inhalation therapy assistent, for a very nice man, I only knew as Mr Beasley. I also worked on the seventh floor, of a recovery ward. One of my patients, started Highland Appliance. Personally, I'd say it must have been one of the Best Hospitals in the Country, for patient care.
-- Alan Roth

I found Sinai Hospital on a website, and it brought back strong memories. The hospital looks as nice today, as it did back then. I am sorry to see that it is closed.

Two of my children were born here. Jennifer Ellen Robertson on December 29, 1953 and my son, Daniel Ian Robertson on March 27, 1955. The delivering doctor was Dr. Feldmann.

What was different back then is that husbands were not allowed in the delivery room, but had to wait in, appropriately, the waiting room. Natural childbirth was not recommended and so we birthing mothers received spinal blocks, and in my case, were unconscious for the birth itself. And then, the newborns were whisked away to the nursery for a 24 hour stay. In other words, I did not see my babies for 24 hours.

Breast feeding was not recommended: formula was though to be superior to Mother's Milk. I think I was the only mother to want to breast feed her baby. I remember one nurse being annoyed with me because she had to bring my baby to me from the nursery for the midnight feeding. Her complaint was that I was interfering with the schedule in the nursery. And of course, back in the 50's schedules were still being followed. Every four hour feedings... whether baby was hungry sooner or later.

The non-nursing mothers were given some type of medication to stop lactation and their breasts were bound flat with lengths of cloth to prevent the milk from 'coming in.'

Visiting hours were restricted. I don't remember exactly when, but I think the evening visiting was 6:30 to 8:30. No exceptions. But my mother came in at 7:30 a.m. to bring me flowers: she was Polish and the nurses couldn't stop her.

And my stay in the hospital was 5 days for the first baby, and 6 days for the second. Cost for the room per day was $15.00, and the OB's fee was $150. There were 4 beds per room.

No special monitors, IV's, no equipment other than a bed, night stand and a closet.

But the rule that babies had to be isolated in the nursery away from mother lasted a number of years. My next two children were born in a Military Hospital in Tokyo, Japan. And the same procedure was still in place in 1961 and 1962. But I stayed in the hospital 3 days as I recall. So the isolation wasn't a procedure followed only by Sinai. By then, babies of nursing mothers roomed in, but still that 24 hour separation was there.

What a difference today with the fathers being in the delivery room assisting in the birthing. I would have loved to have had my husband with me, and for him to have seen the birth itself. But those were different times.

Thank you for the website.
-- Helen Robertson

I trained and practiced at Sinai; My cousin, also an Obstetrician also trained and practiced there. Between us we delivered thousands of babies there!

It was the best training program anywhere for surgery, Obstetrics, Urology, Internal Medicine, Endocrine, and Radiology.

Each new life we brought into the world and each life we saved was as if we saved the whole world.

The memories we cherish from there will never be forgotten.
-- Dr Bernie Stern, Hollywood, Florida

I have just found your website today. I have to say that I have always had a great interest in old buildings especially old houses. Your website is so informative. Reading what others wrote about Sinai Hospital was very touching. I was born at Sinai in 1979.
I vividly remember coming back in 1985 for the birth of my brother and meeting the nurse who delivered me in 1979. She was the attending nurse for his birth also. The point of this is that Sinai for so many people was more than a hospital, it was an extension of a family. Today when you go to a Hospital like Beaumont, you are just a number in a medical gown. Losing Sinai was very sad for so many. It was not only losing a building, it was like losing a part of family.
-- Beth M

I know this is #5 tonight but I stumbled onto your Sinai Hospital site and I trained there as an X-Ray Tech @ $40 a week there in 1957 taking classes at the Shapiro School Of Nursing down on the West side of the building. They started me in the X-Ray developing darkroom in the days of hand developed film for eight hours a day and for six months. It was a great hospital and we treated a high percentage of indigent patients. There was also a Medical research Dept and I would have to take the portable X-ray machine up to take pictures during operations. One of the rooms contained a couple dozen dogs that had larynx removal surgery so their barking wouldn't bother patients on nearby floors. When you looked in the window they would all jump at the door and bark but you heard no sound.
-- Dan Pliskow

David Gelfand (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, June 03, 2005 - 4:31 pm

I practiced at Sinai for about three years in the early 1970s when the hospital was still in its prime. It was indeed an excellent hospital.

People don't remember that Sinai Hospital was built mainly to be a place where Jewish doctors could admit their patients. After WWII, many young Jewish physicians were graduated after studying on the GI Bill. When they went out in practice, they could not get admitting prvileges in most of the good hospitals in Detroit. In lage part, Sinai was built to solve this problem and it did.

Sinai was located on Outer Drive in what was then a very nice part of the city. My parents lived at the time on Outer Drive near Schaefer Road.

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vandew (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2006 - 3:14 am

I graduated from The Shapiro School of Practical Nursing in 1973 and worked at Sinai Hospital for the next 12 years (in the Fisher Wing, unit 38). I moved away and heard that the building was abandanded, but, by the time I returned to Detoit in 2003, Sinai was no more. I cried as I retrieved a brick or two from the site and learned that, alas, its true. You can't go home anymore. Thank you for posting these memories.

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Saturday, August 12, 2006 - 12:26 am

I worked as a Registered Nurse at Sinai during the early to mid 1970's, in the Pre-0p/Recovery Room. We had 17 operating room suites (still large by today's comparison). Between in-patient and out-patient surgeries, we frequently surpassed 90 surgeries per day! Guess what? In ALL my years working closely with the anesthesiologists, not ONE surgery case EVER had ANY respiratory or cardiac complication due to anesthesia! That is why I selected Sinai's surgical team to operate on my daughter in 1978, when she was 8 years old, and required a major operation. My daughter is a healthy 36 year old nurse today! You'd be hard press today to find that level of QUALITY medical or surgical care, especially in this day of HMO's and managed care. What I truly remember about the majority of the medical staff was simply...they CARED about being physicians, cared about easing the suffering for humanity...not about how much money they could make like the majority of physicians today. I shall always be grateful to Sinai and the medical community of Detroit for those wonderous years...never to be realized again in this country. I live on the West coast and I have not seen the degree of caring or competence that I saw as my days as a nurse at Sinai Hospital of Detroit.

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Roberta M. (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2007 - 1:44 pm

Spent 20 years at Sinai Hospital of Detroit ("People Who Care!"), with very fond memories and lasting relationships as a result of my time spent working in many different departments in the hospital from 1979-2000. I also delivered my daughter there in 1980 - wouldn't have gone anywhere else! It was a very special place to work, and I feel privileged to have been a part of such an important Detroit institution.

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Patty Akrouche (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Sunday, June 10, 2007 - 3:12 am

I stumbled onto this page, I was born at Sinai in 1969~didnt know until now it was such a great place.

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Carol (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, October 19, 2009 - 9:12 pm

The best years of my life were spent in classes at Shapiro School of Practical Nursing, and working on the Maternal Child Unit.

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Diane (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Saturday, February 13, 2010 - 12:14 pm

I was fortunate, proud and privileged to graduate from Shapero School of Practical Nursing in 1980. Sinai was a fabulous hospital and such a loss to the neighborhood when it closed. What memories....
Diane Odell (Watts)

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - 10:42 pm

It may be gone now but in the early 1990s I spent my formative 20s working in the busy emergency department at Sinai. It may be gone now but I will always keep the vivid memories of the countless patients I learned my trade from in the Sinai ER!

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