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 $66.4 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.

Our Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Network develops collaborative relationships with other Michigan hospitals making our services available to more patients.

In December 2015, the state-of-the-art Mary Free Bed YMCA opened, serving as an international 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 history of more than 125 years in the community:


This year marks the 125th anniversary celebration.


Renovation of the remainder of the campus began, including outpatient services, a patient library and physician treatment rooms. Mary Free Bed and the YMCA collaborated to design a building where all can participate regardless of ability. The Guild made the lead investment. Dedicated in December 2015, The Mary Free Bed YMCA became the first building in the world to receive universal design certification.


A $66.4 million expansion and renovation project was initiated to increase the number of patients served, enhance treatment capability and create a healing environment for patients, family and staff. An LEED Healthcare certification goal was established for the entire project. The expansion project included a 6-story, 167-bed, flagship hospital, which opened in March 2015. The design, functionality and leading-edge technology in the building enables more patients to be treated with better outcomes.


The 35-year-old Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association officially became the Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program at Mary Free Bed. As of May 2016, 13 junior and adult sports teams compete nationally and 700 wheelchair athletes and program participants are served annually.


Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Network was established to share rehabilitation expertise across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. As of May 2016, there are 28 acute care hospitals in the Network.


The number of rehabilitation offerings increased. Teams of rehabilitation specialists led by physiatrists treated patients with increasingly acute medical needs.


A newly constructed outpatient building opened and was connected to the main hospital by a skyway over Lafayette Avenue SE.


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.

Our Origin

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.