Spears Chiropractic Hospital

August 27, 2013 by
Filed under: Spinewave Bulletin 

spears chiropractic hospital

Leo Spears began life in Ivan, Florida in 1894. His parents were poor, but by force of personality and vision, he forged a successful career. While still a student at Palmer (1921 graduate), the young Spears spoke of opening a chiropractic hospital.

Dr. Spears opened his first office in downtown Denver on Independence Day 1921. While his practice was successful, he was pressured by the MD tenants to vacate his office to another building.

As early as 1924, Dr. Spears was telling radio audiences about his “painless system,” and would later author the textbook Spears Painless System of Chiropractic (1950).

In 1933, the forerunner to the Spears Hospital was incorporated as the Spears Free Clinic and Hospital for Poor Children. In its peak years, the clinic served 200-300 patients each day. Prior to WW II, Dr. Spears extended the clinic’s services to the remote communities with his Spears Traveling Clinic, a converted house trailer.

Dr. Spears began the monumental task of building a chiropractic hospital in 1940. He purchased a 15-acre tract of ranch land east of Denver in a tax sale. The first unit, a 236-bed facility dedicated to Dr. Willard Carver, was opened May 1, 1943. A second, larger building with a 364-bed capacity was opened in 1949 and dedicated to D.D. Palmer.

After failing to receive a state license to operate the hospital, Dr. Spears brought suit against the Denver Medical Society and the Colorado State Board of Health for conspiracy. A seven-year battle ensued, ending on July 1, 1950 when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that chiropractic “may not be arbitrarily limited or discriminated against, and its advocates may lawfully erect and operate buildings and facilities for the treatment, according to its tenets, of patients seeking its aid…”

Spears Chiropractic Hospital was issued a license retroactive to the date of application: May 1, 1943.

The legal battles never ended: At one time, four cases were simultaneously in litigation. One of the most publicized was an $11 million suit against The Denver Post, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Denver, and more than 80 officers of the BBB. Although that suit was eventually dismissed, Dr. Spears filed an appeal shortly before his death in 1956.

Dr. Spears was a true chiropractic pioneer and crusader, fighting the medical and local power establishment for the right to practice chiropractic.

After Leo Spears’ death, his nephews, Drs. Dan and Howard Spears, took over the direction of the hospital. It’s been estimated that the Spears Chiropractic Hospital contributed in excess of $5 million in free services over the years.

Reference: Dynamic Chiropractic. July 16, 1993, Vol. 11, Issue 15.

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