North Detroit General Hospital, a 200-bed complex located in the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck was established in December of 1968. Consisting of two buildings on Carpenter Street, the hospital catered to local patients with a variety of ailments.
By 1993, however, there was a surplus of available hospital beds in the Detroit area, and the hospital went bankrupt in May of that year. After sitting dormant for a short time, two physicians – Soon K. Kim and Orekonde Ganesh – purchased the hospital in February of 1994 for $2 million dollars and renamed it Greater Detroit Hospital. Dr. Ganesh had worked at NDGH for 17 years as family practice doctor and would oversee the medical side of the hospital; Dr. Kim owned several psychiatric clinics around Detroit and would handle the business side.
Though there were serious doubts at the time about the viability of another hospital in an already crowded market, GDH quickly became a profitable facility. Dr. Ganesh was a well-respected physician, and the hospital maintained a high standard of quality under his watch.
Unfortunately, the prosperity was short-lived. Orekonde Ganesh died in car accident in 1996 when his car plunged into a pond. His sudden started a chain of events that quickly brought the hospital down.
What happened afterwards is better documented by the Metro Times. Allegedly, Dr. Kim moved quickly to buy out Dr. Ganesh's share of the hospital; when the estate refused to sell, Kim began to siphon money out of GDH and into his own psychiatric business through a series of complex deals and arrangements. Millions of dollars in funds and equipment flowed out of GDH and into the Kim-owned Aurora Hospital, while local and federal taxes went unpaid. Amidst a flurry of lawsuits and investigations, the hospital closed for good in 1999.
The story does not end there, though.
In 2006, The Hamtramck Star began reporting that the once-secure hospital had been broken into, and was being looted by scrappers. The severity of the situation increased when confidential patient records that had been stored in the hospital were found scattered throughout the neighborhood, blowing in the wind. After a story appeared in the Detroit News, Kim was required by the state to dispose of the documents properly, and claimed a few weeks later that he had.
Shortly after he confirmed the destruction of the patient records, state investigators found still more records inside the building, and again compelled Kim to dispose of them. Again, he claimed that he would and did.
In August of 2007, another story appeared in the Detroit News detailing how the records from DGH that were supposed to have been destroyed were instead moved to a vacant car dealership. Again, Kim was directed to destroy them, and again he claimed that he had.
Two weeks later, firefighters responding to a call in rural Salem Township found three piles of hospital records and x-rays burning in the backyard of a farm owned by Dr. Kim. Footage from news helicopters showed additional piles of records, over eight feet tall in some cases, scattered around the farm. The state filed a $1M lawsuit against Kim for improper disposal of patient records. The case was settled in 2009 for $350,000.
In the meantime, things might be looking up for the former hospital complex. The property was sold in 2006, and work is underway at one of the two vacant hospital buildings, which is being converted into a charter public school. The company, which purchased the hospital buildings and the medical complex across the street, intends to convert the remaining building into senior living.