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Van Buren was a pioneer physician in Statesboro
African American opened the Statesboro Sanitarium in 1918
W Statesboro Sanitarium
The front of the Statesboro Sanitarium is shown in 1920.

      At a time when most African Americans were struggling to earn a decent living, there were those who dared to look beyond the barriers that often served as roadblocks or dead end streets. Dr. Harvey Van Buren was one such person who would stop at nothing to accomplish his dreams.
       Born in Sumter, S.C., to James and Harriet (Grantum) Van Buren, the young Harvey set himself apart from others by being a diligent student who worked hard to earn good grades and the admiration of others. After graduating from Kendall Institute in Sumter, S.C., he applied for college and was accepted at Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C.) in 1897.
      Because his family was not able to finance his college education, an older sister who had become a teacher, promised to help him enroll in the university. There, he sought employment that would help him earn his way through college. He worked as a waiter in the school's dining hall, but was soon awarded an academic scholarship for outstanding academic performance.
      After earning a bachelor's degree in 1907, Van Buren continued to pursue his dream of becoming a medical doctor. He entered Howard University (Washington, D.C.) and assumed a grueling schedule that would require him to work and attend classes for medical school. By the time he graduated with a medical degree in 1907, he had gone from approximately 200 pounds down to a meager 145 pounds. He later enrolled at Boston College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he completed studies in 1910.
       Van Buren began professional practice in Louisville, Ga., where he practiced for four years. He moved to Statesboro in 1915, where he opened the Van Buren Sanitarium in 1918, on what is presently Elm Street. The local paper of the day, The Bulloch Times, noted that the 12-room bungalow-style facility was the personal property of Van Buren and something badly needed by the Black community.
       Dr. Van Buren was also acknowledged for the critical part he played in providing medical services to the victims of the "great flu epidemic," which hit Statesboro during World War I.
      He practiced medicine in Statesboro until his death in 1964. The structure that was once the town's first Black hospital can still be found on Elm Street and is a legacy to the man who dedicated his life to improve the health of others.

 

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