The History of Hamilton Community Health Network
Hamilton Community Health Network (HCHN), a non-profit organization is dedicated to providing comprehensive, quality, community-oriented health care for the insured and uninsured throughout Genesee and Lapeer Counties. Hamilton Community Health Network has 35 years of service offering a caring, trained, certified staff that is concerned with the management of chronic and acute disease, oral health management, health promotion and disease prevention.
Telling the full story of Hamilton Community Health Network requires starting in the 1920’s when Bishop Michael J. Gallagher from the Diocese of Detroit requested that four sisters of St. Joseph come from Nazareth (Kalamazoo), Michigan to establish St. Joseph Hospital in Flint. The Sisters of St. Joseph brought with them a mission of caring for all people in need. According to information found on Genesys/Ascension’s website, The Sisters arrived in Flint on September 25, 1920, to open St. Joseph Hospital in the former Thomas Stockton residence at 720 Ann Arbor St.
Through the years, St. Joseph Hospital continued to thrive and sustained growth. Along with this growth, the issue of hospital bed reduction continued to affect the community. St. Joseph Health Systems was committed to addressing this issue, and eventually affiliated with Flint General Hospital in 1981. Flint General Hospital was a 115-bed hospital, which later was named Family Hospital. According to Clarence Pierce, CEO of Hamilton Community Health Network, “this was the only hospital that African-Americans could receive primary care”. In 1982, Family Hospital closed and primary care needs for the low-income, minority populations in Flint were left unmet. It was at this time that Jerry Vogler, the first Executive Director, Archie LeFlore and other founding Board Members for the Hamilton Family Health Center in the Medical residents quarters of Flint Family Hospital on Hamilton Avenue.
In The Beginning
Hamilton Family Health Center opened it’s doors to the Flint community in April 1982 after the closing of the old Flint General Hospital. Flint General Hospital, later known as Family Hospital was a 115-bed facility that served as the primary care location for the low-income, minority residents of the city of Flint. According to Clarence Pierce, CEO of Hamilton Community Health Network, “Family Hospital was the only hospital that the African-American community could receive primary care”.
With the primary medical care needs for the low-income and minority populations in Flint left unmet, Jerry Vogler, the first Executive Director, Archie LeFlore and other founding Board Members for the Hamilton Family Health Center sought to acquire Flint Hospital location as the location to open Hamilton Family Health Center. The Health Center operated out of the basement of the hospital and provided medical, dental and social services to meed the medical needs of the low-income and minority populations primarily on the north side of Flint.
Before Hamilton Family Health Center was introduced to the city of Flint, accessible health services for low-income and minority groups were difficult to find.
Under the supervision of its second Executive Director, Gerald Matthews, and with additional support from then State Representative Dale Kildee, Hamilton Family Health Center received grant funding which supported the move to the old Main location featured here at 4001 N. Saginaw Street. In addition, the center began receiving Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) funding to address the growing needs of the homeless population.
Growth and Expansion
During the mid-1980’s, s shift occurred in the City of FLint. The diminishing presence of General Motors in Genesee County resulted in the loss of over 40,000 jobs. The target population of the working poor, unemployed, uninsured and homeless residents serviced by Hamilton Family Health Center began to grow. As a result of this growth in unmet need, Hamilton continued to find innovative ways to provide care to those in need.
In 1993, growth was experienced and a second location was added north of Flint in the Beecher Community where the Dental program would soon become a stand-alone clinic, now known as Dental North.
Surviving Through The Decades
Throughout the remainder of the 1980’s and well into the 1990’s, several things changed at Hamilton. David Caudle became the third Executive Director in the late 1990’s followed by the appointment of Gary Peterson as the fourth.
Hamilton Family Health Center, and Hurley Medical center established a collaborative effort to provide services tot he residents living on the north side of Flint. By 1999, Hamilton expanded their healthcare services and moved to the North Pointe Clinic location which was formerly a Hurley Clinic. In 2009, Hamilton purchased the facility and continues to remain the only health center located north of Pierson Road in flint.
Hamilton installed Greg Averyhardt in 1999 as its Interim Executive Director. During this time many administrative changes took place and Hamilton continued to grow.
In 2002, Hamilton Community Health Network moved its Administrative Offices from the basement of the “Old Main” building to the Northbank Center. the relocation of the Administrative Offices allowed Hamilton to increase health care services offered at the Main clinic by making more clinical space available for providers and clinic staff.
Adopting To Change
With a focus on growth and expansion, Hamilton established its Burton Clinic in December 2002 in collaboration and partnership with the Genesee County Health Department. Hamilton eventually purchased its Burton location pictured here and began offering other services including: family planning, immunizations for children and adults, pregnancy testing, pediatric services and added a pharmacy.
At Hamilton, we recognize that patients serviced by community health centers have complex medical and socio-economic needs that can make access to prevention and medical treatment more difficult. CEO Clarence Pierce stated that “through the addition of vision, and specialty services such as urology, podiatry, we are creating a one-stop shop for medical services”.
Expansion of services was key to Hamilton’s growth. With the acquisition of the Burton Clinic, additional administrative space was needed to support the growth of the Network.
In 2009, Hamilton moved its Administrative Offices from the Northbank Center to its current location pictured here. This building was renovated by design to increase the administrative capacity necessary to operate as a Federally Qualified Health Center.
Looking To The Future
Under the leadership of Clarence R. Pierce, the sixth Chief Executive Officer for HCHN, the grand opening of the new flagship facility now referred to as “New Main” was celebrated in 2012. This state of the art, 31,000 square-foot facility is currently the largest HCHN facility.
When you visit New Main, in honor of our board member and long-time patient, you will see the Mary Williams Parkway. Mrs. Williams was vocal about the need for Hamilton’s growth in the community and was known for her saying, “I am with you when you are right.”
Through a collaboration with Genesys Health System, now Ascension Health, Hamilton was gifted the Clio Clinic site along with all equipment. At the time, there was only one provider at the site to service the patients who lived north of our Flint locations.
With the addition of the Clio Health Clinic establishes din 2012, and the Lapeer Health Clinic which opened in 2016, Hamilton currently has six locations within its Network.