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Truman Medical Center Health Sciences District (TMC HSD) was dedicated four decades ago, but its roots go back more than a century.

Its forerunner was General Hospital, the first hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, built in 1870 then rebuilt in the 1920s into two racially segregated facilities. The hospitals joined in 1957, forming a facility that later became the teaching hospital for the new University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Medical School, and a major component in the Health Sciences District, a master plan designed by community leaders for the consolidation and improvement of hospitals in the Kansas City area. The new medical school and connected hospital were dedicated in 1976.

The roots of Truman Medical Center (TMC) Lakewood go back even further than those of TMC HSD—to the mid 1800s, when Jackson County purchased a large farm for the purpose of caring for those who could no longer care for themselves. But it was Harry S. Truman who set the ball rolling on a path that would lead to today's two-hospital system.

In 1928, Truman, then the presiding judge of the Jackson County Court, campaigned for and saw passage of a bond issue that led to construction of the Rural Jackson County Emergency Hospital on the grounds of the farm. In the 1970s, TMC and UMKC School of Medicine were established as the Health Sciences District and joined with the old county hospital, which became Truman Medical Center East. In early 2000, the names were officially changed to Truman Medical Center Health Sciences District and Truman Medical Center Lakewood.

From Separate to Equal: The Creation of Truman Medical Centers

At the turn of the 20th century, African-American doctors, nurses and patients were excluded from most Kansas City area hospitals. The realities of segregation created the need for black healthcare institutions. The film From Separate to Equal: The Creation of Truman Medical Centers tells the dramatic story of some of greater Kansas City's African-American healthcare pioneers and their efforts that led to the creation of black hospitals such as Douglass Hospital and General Hospital Number 2 and finally to the complete integration of the healthcare system, informing and giving rise to Truman Medical Centers/University Health.