Rehabilitation is in our DNA. We’ve been helping to restore hope and freedom for more than a century. Recent years have brought tremendous growth to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. Our $62.5 million expansion and renovation has more than doubled our number of inpatient beds, allowing us to help even more patients in West Michigan and beyond.
Mary Free Bed continues to put the needs of patients first and advocate for the right level of rehabilitation, in the right place, at the right time. We’re adding new programs that meet today’s needs and look ahead to tomorrow. We’re expanding our research that identifies promising protocols and technology. And our Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Network develops collaborative relationships with other Michigan hospitals making our services available to more patients. In fall 2014, ground was broken for the state-of-the-art Mary Free Bed YMCA, which will serve as a national model for inclusion.
Steady progress in the areas of social services, technology, clinical research and facility improvements has led to our emergence as a nationally recognized hospital complex devoted exclusively to providing comprehensive rehabilitation services for adults and children.
Here’s a snapshot of our 120-plus-year history in the community:
Outpatient services were added in 1960 to serve patients not requiring 24-hour care. Growth continued when the hospital initiated an adult rehabilitation program and expanded care for spinal cord injury and stroke patients. We adopted the name Mary Free Bed Hospital and Rehabilitation Complex in 1966 to reflect an expansion into adult care. That year, 12 men (a first) joined 12 guild women to form the new complex’s board of trustees.
By 1953, we had established ourselves as a regional center for juvenile rehabilitation services and officially changed our name to Mary Free Bed Guild Children’s Hospital and Orthopedic Center. The decade saw our expansion to provide patients with additional services such as music and speech therapy.
Throughout the decade, Mary Free Bed Guild continued treating and rehabilitating disabled children and expanded services to provide care for cerebral palsy patients as well as inpatient and outpatient care for amputee patients.
Expansion continued as the guild opened a 12-bed children’s convalescent unit at 1411 East Fulton Street. This early effort was widely recognized in 1935, when we received designation as the Orthopedic Center of Western Michigan by the state Crippled Children’s Commission. The guild also opened the Mary Free Bed Brace Shop, a specialized service that developed custom orthotics, braces and supports.
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital originated in 1891 when a small group of Grand Rapids women recognized the need for medical care for patients of limited financial means in our community. They embarked on a fundraising campaign to secure the use of a free bed in a local hospital, soliciting financial support from the Grand Rapids community, asking for contributions from everyone named Mary, as well as from those having friends or relatives with the name. They soon raised enough money to endow a free bed, which subsequently became known as the Mary Free Bed. As the fund – and community need – grew, other women joined the group. It became incorporated in 1911 as the Mary Free Bed Guild of Grand Rapids.