Dr. John Henry Hale graduated from Walden University and MeHarry Medical College while Mille E. Hale, his wife, was a graduate of Fisk’s Normal School and the Graduate School for Nurses in New York City. When Mrs. Hale returned to Nashville, she saw a need for additional health care services for African American patients who, at that time, could not be treated at “white” institutions. In 1916, Dr. and Mrs. Hale opened the second floor of their home as the Millie E. Hale Hospital.

Starting as a 12-bed facility, the hospital eventually grew to become the Hale’s entire home and included 75 beds with a solarium, laboratory, maternity ward, operating room and sterilizing rooms. More than 4,000 patients from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee were treated there. Soon after, the couple opened a community center at the hospital that included a prenatal and infant clinic and a free dispensary and clinic for adults. Activities included health classes, provision of food and shelter, a boys and girls club and foster care services.

Mrs. Hale was the hospital’s head administrator and chief nurse, as well as secretary and treasurer for the board of directors. She was commended by leading surgeons in the country for her uniquely designed sanitation system. She also started a training center for nurses that went on to earn recognition by the American College of Surgeons.

Throughout his successful career, Dr. Hale served as President of the Board of Directors of the Millie E. Hale Hospital and Professor of Clinical Medicine and Surgery and Chief of Staff at Meharry. After the hospital’s closing, he went on to become Chair of the Department of Surgery at the College. A dedicated physician, he believed in continued improvement and would often visit the Mayo Clinic and larger institutions each year to foster his medical knowledge.

Health care pioneers, innovative practitioners and social justice advocates, Dr. John Henry & Millie Hale are 2018 inductees of the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame.