Oakwood celebrates Golden Anniversary at Southshore Medical Center

Trenton, Mich. – September –  Medical science and technology have come a long way in the last 50 years, and few people can attest to it the way Lilian Diakow, MD, can.

Dr. Diakow, an OB/Gyn at the Oakwood Southshore Medical Center (OSMC), delivered the first baby at the hospital and has worked there since it opened in 1961 as Seaway Hospital.

“We’ve come a long, long way, and it’s still a wonderful place to be,” said Diakow, who still practices at the hospital and has an office in Wyandotte.

Diakow was one of a crowd of people—present and former staff members, board members and the general public—to visit the Trenton hospital as officials celebrated the 50th anniversary of the facility Saturday. The hospital hosted an open house that included tours of new and updated facilities, free health screenings and physician lectures. Photo displays were set up depicting scenes from the past half-century, along with books of press clippings.

“It was a celebration of where we were and where we’re heading,” said Edith Hughes, division president of Oakwood Healthcare, Inc (OHI).

The OSMC opened as Seaway Hospital on Feb. 27, 1961. Oakwood acquired it—along with Heritage Hospital in Taylor and Annapolis Hospital in Wayne—in 1989. Oakwood completed a $64 million investment in the facility in 2008 that included a new surgery center that opened in November 2004, and a pavilion that opened in June 2008. The imaging department was expanded with new technology in 2009. OSMC was designated as a Level II Trauma center in February 2011—it is the only such hospital south of I-94 in Michigan.

“It is a tremendous benefit to have a facility like this in our community,” said Paul Haley, emergency management coordinator for the City of Trenton.

In addition to the members of the community, staff members wandered down to take a look at the historic pictures and recognized their colleagues from yesteryear. Debbie Thorn, RN, manager of the Progressive Care Medicine department, has worked at OSMC for more than 30 years and said she recognized quite a few faces. She also said that, through all the improvements the hospital has gone through since Oakwood acquired it, one thing has remained the same.

“We are all one big family here,” said Thorn. “We’ve changed the structure, but we haven’t changed the heart.”

Hughes said the heart of the hospital revealed itself though the many people involved in planning the celebration, too.

“We could not have done this without tremendous support and a lot of hard work and planning from our staff. Our physicians, nurses, volunteers—everyone involved in this went above and beyond,” said Hughes. “It shows that through all the years and all the changes here, we are still one family.”
In that, Dr. Diakow agrees.

“I love it here. It’s very much my home,” she said. “We don’t just take care of the patients, we take care of the patients’ family.”

CUTLINES: Top: Jack Kripowicz, a former OSMC board member, teacher and member of the Trenton City Council, stopped by to see the updates at the hospital. "I used to go down there all the time," he said.

Above: Staff celebrated the family atmosphere of the hospital, part of the Oakwood Healthcare System where Patients Come First.