Essay 1- BED Textual Analysis: Howard University Hospital

                              BED Textual Analysis of Howard University Hospital

Howard University Hospital is currently a state of the art, top-tier hospital located in the heart of Northeast, Washington D.C. As emphasized by the name, Howard University Hospital is in conjunction with the prestigious African American college, Howard University. This hospital is specifically significant because it was the first hospital of its kind to provide care for African American soldiers injured during the civil war. As I journeyed throughout The doors of Howard university hospital, it was evident whom the majority of the population was cared for. Most African Americans reside in these areas and are assisted in care in the Shaw/Howard area. This essay will focus on the rhetorical space of this hospital and analysis on the challenges it faces and how it has changed over time.

A comparison of Freedman’s Hospital and the current Howard University Hospital.


According to the online reference center focused on African American History,, Howard Hospital was formally called Freedman’s Hospital and was founded in 1862. It is important to recognize the historical significance of the name “Freedman.” Freedman Hospital is clearly a refers to the Freedman’s Bureau. The Freedmen’s Bureau was a bill created by  President Abraham Lincoln as a vessel for Reconstruction. The Bureau assisted the recently “freed” black men of the south who suffered from the effects of slavery and were trying to assimilate into a free man’s life. In relationship to one another, both the Bureau and the hospital assisted the very same free slaves from the Civil War. 

African American Veterans of war being treated by their African American medical professionals.

Soon after its founding, Freedman’s hospital became a teaching hospital primarily for black nurses and doctors who were not granted the same chance prior to practice medicine before. As the now Howard University Hospital began to expand, the “first black hospital administrator in U.S History” (Howard.Edu) Dr. Alexander T. Augusta was a pioneer because of the pure racism he endured while caring for his very own people. Because of the disadvantages, African Americans have faced post and prior to the civil war, Agusta and the hospital were able to provide those in this built environment with an expansion of the medical school.

When the hospital eventually moved to its current location  Bryant Street, NW, between 4th and 6th Streets in 1909 everything seemed to change. For example, it now hosts a modern contemporary facility that has acquired their own challenges and scandals. “Every single hospital administrator, whether white or black, was involved in some sort of scandal from misconduct to malpractice. Numerous cases were brought against hospital officials who utilized hospital services for personal gain” (BlackPost). It is interesting analyzing the BlackPast’’s perspective on these incidences due to their very biased opinion on the history of Howard University Hospital. Their description of the hospital is very fact based up until there is mention of its struggles. The rhetoric used by the author is very short but precise and puts added emphasis on its problems while failing to mention any solutions. I find this particularly interesting considering the influence it has as a major publication and the impact their stance can make onto the public view of the hospital.

This hospital was formally owned and operated by the United States government but during the presidency of John F Kennedy, the ownership of the hospital was turned over to Howard University for operation. Although this may seem as not much of a surprise considering them being pioneer institutions of recognizable spaces for African Americans, there is much to say about the financial struggles occurring once that transition of power was made. Many malpractice suits began to arise from this power transition.

“Numerous cases were brought against hospital officials who utilized hospital services for personal gain.  Other administrators were neglectful and some were charged with embezzlement.  While the Hospital’s leadership was tarnished, the doctors and nurses continued to provide vital treatment too often impoverished District of Columbia residents” (BlackPast).

It is important to note that the hospital’s goals and motto are being exploited and tarnish. During this time African Americans are receiving the care they deserve in facilities equipped with the latest materials. Do questions arise as to whether this success of African Americans in position and places of power is positive in light of the negative claims of embezzlement and neglection? Are these crimes considered justified due to the years of torment and unacceptance directed toward African Americans? It is hard to answer that particular question and The BlackPost article does not come up with a personal direction to address the issue, but it can be acknowledged that there are problems with the hospital and this might stem from the fact that it is the first African American Hospital of its kind.

In her Washington Post article, “Howard University Hospital shows symptoms of a severe crisis,” Cheryl Thompson gives an overview of the history of the historic hospital and its humble beginning then dives right into their malpractice and maintenance problems. This, in particular, is shocking considering the same issues were occurring less than one-hundred years ago. Current President and Physician of Howard University, Wayne A. I Patrick stated that the “medical facility has made “significant strides in achieving our financial and operational stability… [but] We recognize we have a lot more to do.” (Thompson).  It is clear Howard wants to address this burning problem considering prior events linking the university and the hospital.

Howard President discussing problems related to Howard University hospital.

As I conducted my research I observed the conditions of the current Howard University Hospital may seem up to par but underlying throughout the Hospital there are problems. Most of the individuals who worked at this hospital’s front desk were African Americans. There seemed to be a lot of hurt and tiredness throughout the hospital floors. There is a vast contrast in the way the hospital is displaced on the website and how visitors are treated at on arrival. Most of the employees were somewhat rude. It was clear that they’re built environment felt invaded by outsiders. While visiting I noticed there was exclusion from some groups and inclusion by others. This I suggest stems from the community aspect of Howard University. Once someone who is not of interest to these individuals occupies this space there is resistance from the other group. This is clear throughout the Shaw/Howard area.

Howard University displayed on professional sites
Howard University view in plain sight without extra flowers or nurturing. stripped down and removed from the flashiness it tends to display.

While observing, I noticed the gentrification becoming rapid, rapid on every turn and corner. But, as I got closer to Howard University there was a difference in the atmosphere. Most of those individuals who occupied this area were African American and could relate to each other somehow. In a way, the hospital is the original commonplace. It served as one of the first black institutes to give black individuals to make it in the professional field. The Shaw/Howard area may be changing rapidly, but one thing remains clear: Howard University and its entities will remain as a haven for African American students and history. It has set its place as a landmark for black excellence and despite its flaws and crises, the hospital and university continue to do so.


                                                      Work Cited

Freedmen’s Hospital/Howard University Hospital (1862– ) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. Accessed 2 May 2017

United States, National Library of Medicine. “Historic Medical Sites in the Washington, DC Area – Howard University Hospital.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Dec. 2014,

“Dr. Alexander T. Augusta.” Sesquicentennial, 29 Mar. 2017,

“Howard University Hospital Shows Symptoms of a Severe Crisis.” Washington Post, Accessed 2 May 2017.