We’ve seen a lot of stories about Detroit, Michigan lately. There are abandoned stadiums, people who walk 20 miles to and from work every day, and a forgotten salt mine under the city itself. Well this story is definitely no exception. When driving through Detroit, you’ll see many abandoned buildings, but this abandoned hospital caught the eye of photographer Robert Johnson. This building was originally constructed as the Southwest Detroit Hospital. It closed its doors in 1993, and then was sold to an area businessman named Harley K. Brown. Brown planned on turning it into the United Community Hospital. Unfortunately, after he drove the hospital into the ground when he tried to advance his boxing promotion career, this hospital took its biggest hit. It has been completely abandoned for 9 years now, but luckily Robert Johnson decided to go inside and see what interesting things he could find.
Robert Johnson was in Detroit for 5 days, documenting a variety of abandoned buildings. But this one caught his attention the most, so he decided to explore.
Being vacant for 9 years, it looked like some of Detroit’s homeless population had started to call this abandoned hospital home.
As Johnson made his way downstairs, he came across this room. The metal stairs were starting to split and there was a sheet of ice on the floor below. In the corner, he noticed what looked like a crawl space, which he found very odd.
When he got down to the ground, he realized that this was not a crawl space at all. The basement had flooded and had since become frozen during the harsh Detroit winter.
Because some of the ceilings were so tall, he was able to stand up inside. There were items frozen into the ice that were clues from the past. They were encased, leaving a haunting sight in the cold abyss below his feet.
Once he started navigating downstairs, he let his intuition carry him throughout the building. He saw this piece of abandoned exercise equipment and decided that was the direction he should go.
In some of the halls, there were abandoned pieces of furniture in random places, including mattresses that were now frozen in the ice.
Some of the abandoned equipment had been there so long it was completely covered in rust. He decided to keep on moving to see what else was there, just waiting to be discovered.
When he looked down, he saw a large table underneath him near the surface of the ice. When he took the picture, he heard the sound of splintering ice which echoed throughout the basement.
The splintering noise definitely scared Robert Johnson. Can you imagine falling through the ice in this nasty cesspool? He dropped to his stomach and decided to crawl out instead, dispersing his weight evenly on the ice. He figured while he was down there, he might as well capture a picture.
He came across a staircase and decided to head on up to the 2nd floor. He found the elevator bay which appears to be have been used for target practice at one time.
It seemed like every turn he took, there were cryptic messages greeting him, possibly warning him.
When the hospital was abandoned, they left everything behind including bodily fluids. This seems like a biological hazard.
Even though Suburban Bloodshed is a thrash metal band in Detroit, seeing the words on this wall gives it an especially eery feeling.
As if the elevators were even an option, but this little note advised giving it a try, which he didn’t.
After opening the doors that mentioned giving the elevator a try, this is what he found. An elevator bay that looks less than safe. When this building was being explored in 2009, a reporter actually found a frozen body at the bottom of this elevator shaft. Because of the weather, it took 2 days for authorities to send someone in to remove the dead body from the ice.
The reporter that had found the frozen body was actually working on an anonymous tip. The caller told the reporter, “He’s encased in ice, except his legs, which are sticking out like Popsicle sticks.” “Why didn’t your friend call the police?”, asked the reporter. “He was trespassing and didn’t want to get in trouble,” mentioned the caller. So of course the reporter had to go investigate.
The caller’s friend is an urban explorer who happened to be trespassing when he found the body. The urban explorer was actually playing hockey on the frozen ice located in the hospital with a group of friends when he made the grisly discovery. When the reporter went to investigate, he did in fact find a body encased in about 2-3 feet of ice. It’s unknown how this person died. Speculations have been anything from murder to an alcohol induced stupor. Johnson was pretty anxious to get as far away as possible from the elevator shaft after learning about its history.
Inside of the hospital, there are remnants of an economic downfall. This paper is from January 2006, which is the same time when Harley Brown and his companies were declared insolvent.
Because of this, HMO Ultimed left thousands of patients with medical claims that went unpaid and ailments that were not treated.
From the look of some of these pictures, it appears everyone including the staff and patients just got up and left everything behind.
There are still time cards tossed around the floor like the employees just clocked out never to return again.
Even the patient files were left behind, just dumped into piles and piles of garbage.
The longer Robert Johnson was here, the more tricks his mind played on him. Anytime he entered a room, he would wait quietly to see if he could hear any other noises.
The city of Detroit actually gave this hospital over $15 million dollars to help take care of the city’s indigent population, but that was, obviously not enough to keep it going.
With the windows gone, Johnson thought the noise he heard in this abandoned office was just papers rustling around. He was in for a surprise when several rats ran past him instead.
The hospital originally opened in 1974, but then was vacated over the course of 3 years, from 1993 through 1996.
Here are more patient documents that have the HMO Ultimed logo on them. Just another reminder of the currently bleak times in Detroit.
The roof offers a 360 degree view of the entire Detroit skyline, which is definitely a site to see.
Johnson had allotted himself an hour to tour this hospital, and since time was running out he was very rushed when he was leaving.
On his way out of the hospital, he did find a few more messages that sent chills up his spine.
Here is a piece of graffiti that can be found on one of the walls in the hospital.Whoever Jase is, he’s been very busy exploring the hospital and leaving his mark using spray paint.
After exiting the hospital, Johnson found himself in the heart of the Corktown neighborhood, which is the oldest standing neighborhood in Detroit.
This is definitely a grim reminder of what Detroit used to be and what it is now. With people selling houses for the mere cost of a cell phone, it is surprising this hospital hasn’t been stripped of anything and everything valuable, such as copper wiring and equipment. Maybe one day, Detroit’s economy will be booming and the residents of Michigan will be proud of their city once again.