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Helen Rodríguez Trías – #DiversityIn Healthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Helen Rodríguez Trías was a pediatrician, educator and women’s rights activist. She was the first Latina president of the American Public Health Association (APHA), a founding member of the Women’s Caucus of the APHA, and a recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal. She is credited with helping to expand the range of public health services for women and children in minority and low-income populations in the United States, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Born in New York in 1929, Helen Rodríguez spent her early years in Puerto Rico, returning to New York with her family when she was 10. Growing up as a Puerto Rican in New York City, she experienced racism and discrimination first-hand. Rodriguez-Trias earned her BA degree from the University of Puerto Rico in 1957 where she became a student activist on issues such as freedom of speech and Puerto Rican independence. She then entered the University of Puerto Rico’s school of medicine and obtained her medical degree in 1960. Rodriguez-Trias chose medicine because it “combined the things I loved the most, science and people”

During her residency at the University Hospital in San Juan, she established the first center for the care of newborn babies in Puerto Rico. Under her direction, the hospital’s death rate for newborns decreased 50 percent within three years.

When she returned to New York in 1970, Dr. Rodriguez-Trias decided to work in community medicine. After attending a conference on abortion at Barnard College in 1970, she focused on reproductive rights. Throughout the 1970s, Dr. Rodriguez-Trias was an active member of the women’s health movement. She was inspired by “the experiences of my own mother, my aunts and sisters, who faced so many restraints in their struggle to flower and reach their own potential.”

Rodriguez-Trias joined the effort to stop sterilization abuse. Poor women, women of color, and women with physical disabilities were far more likely to be sterilized than white, middle-class women. Rodriguez-Trias was a founding member of both the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse and the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse, and testified before the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare for passage of federal sterilization guidelines in 1979. The guidelines, which she helped draft, require a woman’s written consent to sterilization, offered in a language they can understand, and set a waiting period between the consent and the sterilization procedure.

Rodriguez-Trias was also a founding member of both the Women’s Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus of the American Public Health Association and the first Latina to serve as president. Toward the end of her life she said, “I hope I’ll see in my lifetime a growing realization that we are one world. And that no one is going to have quality of life unless we support everyone’s quality of life…Not on a basis of do-goodism, but because of a real commitment…it’s our collective and personal health that’s at stake.”

In January 2001 she received a Presidential Citizen’s Medal for her work on behalf of women, children, people with HIV and AIDS, and the poor. Helen Rodriguez-Trias died of complications from cancer in December, 2001.

Information and photo source: https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_273.html

Edwin C. Marshall – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Edwin C. Marshall, O.D., M.S., M.P.H. is a Professor Emeritus with the Indiana University School of Optometry. Prior to retirement, he worked as IU’s vice president for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs.


During his career at IU, he launched the Indiana University Summer Institute in Health Related Professions, which helped get minority students into health professions, including optometry. He also worked to establish IU’s first satellite clinic in an underserved area, providing access to care and teaching students to provide a high level of care to all patients.

Dr. Marshall has a distinguished record of service which includes previously serving as president of the National Optometric Association, the Indiana Optometric Association, and the Indiana Public Health Association.

He was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2009. This prestigious group only includes 84 members as of 2020.

 

Information sources: https://optometry.iu.edu/people-directory/marshall-edwin.html; https://www.facebook.com/NatOptAssoc/posts/i-was-the-first-african-american-male-matriculated-into-indiana-universitys-scoo/10156230081023963/
Photo source: https://optometry.iu.edu/people-directory/marshall-edwin.html

Mark A. Schuster, MD, PhD – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Mark A. Schuster, MD, PhD is the founding dean and CEO of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. In 2010, he gave a speech on being a gay physician. His talk struck a chord with many and was published and covered widely in the media, serving as an inspiration for LGBTQ physicians and medical students.

Dr. Schuster earned his undergraduate degree from Yale and his medical degree from Harvard in 1987. Throughout his education and career, he felt pressure to hide his sexual orientation in order to be successful. He was unwilling to bow to this pressure, however, and has been an unwavering advocate for fair treatment of LGBTQ clinicians and patients.

He is an international leader in child, adolescent, and family health, having researched and written extensively on these topics. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, and is currently leading the new medical school at Kaiser Permanente.

Info sources: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/doctor-outhttps://medschool.kp.org/about/board-of-directors/mark-a-schuster
Photo source: https://medschool.kp.org/content/dam/internet/kp/som/homepage/about/leadership/mark_schuster_960x960.jpg

Thyra J. Edwards – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Thyra Johnson Edwards was an American educator, journalist, labor activist, and social worker.

Thyra J. Edwards was born in 1897 in Wharton, Texas. Her grandparents were born enslaved Africans, who escaped from Missouri to Illinois with the help of the Underground Railroad.

Edwards started her career in Houston as a school teacher, eventually moving to Gary, Ind., and Chicago, where she was employed as a social worker, and later moved to New York to work as a journalist. She combined her social work and interest in international affairs, gaining worldwide notoriety for her activism.

Edwards continually looked for places for Black women to be activists in the international community. She was a teacher, journalist, lecturer and social worker, who took an interest in child welfare, even founding her own children’s home. She was a strong advocate for women’s rights, a labor organizer, union publicist, peace and civil rights activist, and a Pan-Africanist.

Thyra Edwards believed that social workers should advocate on behalf of disadvantaged and at-risk populations; focus on issues and problems specifically affecting the well-being of women; and demonstrate the ability to work with diverse populations.

The link between the plight of blacks throughout the world was a cornerstone of her professional philosophy. She worked with people of all races and nationalities during a time when the social work profession was segregated.

It was that viewpoint that attracted her to the Communist Party while she was living in New York in the 1930s. Edwards publicly supported the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and used her role as a correspondent to travel to Europe, Mexico, and the Soviet Union. Her activities with the U.S. Communists drew the attention of the FBI and she was monitored by U.S. government intelligence organizations until her death in 1953 at the age of 55.

Sadly, although Edwards was a social work pioneer, she is virtually unknown today in social work.

Info sources: https://www.nabsw.org/page/SocialWork
https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/edwards-thyra-j-1887-1953/#sthash.aHDnan4Q.dpuf

Photo source: https://www.nabsw.org/page/SocialWork

Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail was born in Montana in 1903. She graduated from Boston Hospital’s School of Nursing with honors in 1923, making her the first person of Apsáalooke (Crow) descent to become a registered nurse.

Generations of indigenous American* children were sent to boarding schools where they were expected to give up their language, beliefs, and traditions. However, Yellowtail closely held onto her Apsáalooke culture throughout her life, marrying a religious leader, creating intricate traditional beadwork, and advocating for tribal healers’ ability to see patients.

Her career as a nurse was spent in service to indigenous Americans – both members of the Apsáalooke tribe and beyond. She documented healthcare injustices and advocated for improvements to the Indian Health Service. Among her many awards and recognitions, she received the President’s Award for Outstanding Nursing from John F. Kennedy in 1962.

Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail passed away in 1981, and has since been inducted into both the Montana and the American Nurses Association Halls of Fame.

*We have used the term “indigenous American” with the recognition that appropriate terminology used to refer to these diverse peoples is an ongoing discussion.

Info sources: http://montanawomenshistory.org/susie-walking-bear-yellowtail-our-bright-morning-star/; https://mhs.mt.gov/Portals/11/education/Montanans/yellowtail2.pdf

Photo source: http://montanawomenshistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/023WHM-PAc-87-71-Tom-and-Susie-Yellowtail.jpg

Hazel Johnson-Brown – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Hazel Johnson-Brown graduated from the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing before joining the Army in 1955, soon after the official end of segregation in the armed forces. In 1979, she became the first black chief of the United States Army Nurse Corps, as well as the first black female brigadier general. The Army Nurse Corps was established in 1901 and is comprised of registered nurses. It is the nursing arm of the Army Medical Department.

After retiring from the military, Johnson-Brown worked in academia at Georgetown University and George Mason University, where she pursued an interest in health policy. She retired from her academic career in 1997.

Information and photo source: https://www.army.mil/africanamericans/profiles/johnson.html

Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr. – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

This week’s #DiversityInHealthcare feature is a native of Texas and a two-time Coog!

Bernard A. Harris, Jr., MD was born in Temple, Texas and earned both a BS in Biology and an MBA from the University of Houston. He completed his medical degree at Texas Tech and his residency at the Mayo Clinic.

He has extensive experience and expertise in medicine, holding various faculty appointments as well as being the current Vice Chair of the Texas Medical Center.
Dr. Harris is best known for his illustrious career with NASA, where he spent more than 438 hours in space and was the first African-American to walk in space.

Image source: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/acd15-0005-008.jpg
Information source: https://www.nasa.gov/ames/ocs/seminars/bernard-harris
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/harris_bernard.pdf

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, PhD, RN, FAAN, is best known as the founder of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.

Born in Panama in 1920, Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde arrived in the U.S. in 1945 and began her nursing career in San Antonio, Texas. Despite the largely Hispanic population of San Antonio, she found few Hispanic nurses serving the community.

This experience promoted her determination to obtain a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing at New York’s Columbia University. She continued with her education and obtained a Master and Doctorate. In 1971, Dr. Murillo-Rohde was the first Hispanic nurse awarded a PhD from New York University.

In the 1970s Dr. Rohde secured a federal position reviewing research and educational grants. She encountered the same experience as in San Antonio: no Latina nurses in academic settings in research or in public policy, and she was motivated to make change.

Murillo-Rohde became an associate dean at the University of Washington and was the first Hispanic nursing dean at SUNY. Murillo-Rohde founded the National Association of Spanish-Speaking Spanish-Surnamed Nurses (NASSSN), known as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) after 1979, and served as its first president.

Dr. Murillo-Rohde was dedicated to the Hispanic population in her work as a psychiatric nurse and focused on cultural awareness in nursing practice. Her vision was to assist Latinas in securing their education to provide service to their community and in helping themselves.

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde passed away in 2010 in her native Panama. NAHN awards a scholarship and an educational excellence award in her honor.

Info sources: https://www.nahnnet.org/NAHN/About/History/NAHN/Content/History.aspx?hkey=45d72c12-d9fb-4a57-860a-5053827c9649
http://nahnnet.org/NAHN/Content/Ildaura_Murillo-Rohde.aspx

Photo source: http://nahnnet.org/NAHN/Content/Ildaura_Murillo-Rohde.aspx

Post written by Stefanie Lapka.

Dr. Antonia Novello – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Dr. Antonia Novello broke two barriers in 1990 when she became Surgeon General of the United States: she was both the first woman and the first Hispanic person to hold the office.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Novello grew up with a chronic health condition. She also had an aunt who died of kidney failure. These were her inspirations for becoming a pediatrician specializing in nephrology. She attended medical school at the University of Puerto Rico and continued her training at the University of Michigan.

Prior to her stint as the nation’s top authority on public health, she had a big impact working at NIH on pediatric AIDS and organ transplant legislation. As Surgeon General, she focused on improving the health of women, children, and minorities. This included a campaign to end cigarette advertisements aimed at children, and raising awareness about AIDS.

Read more about Dr. Antonio Novello as you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Info source: https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_239.htmlWhen
Photo source: https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/static/img/portraits/239.jpg

Dr. Patrice Harris – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

This week’s #DiversityInHealthcare highlight is psychiatrist Dr. Patrice Harris. Dr. Harris was the first African-American woman to be elected as president of the American Medical Association – in 2019.

Hailing from West Virginia, she knew at an early age that she wanted to be a physician. Despite this, a guidance counselor advised her to go to nursing school. She decided to major in psychology instead and went on to graduate from the West Virginia University School of Medicine. She completed her residency and fellowship at Emory University.

Dr. Harris has an extensive history of leadership, having served extensively with the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, advocated with various legislative bodies, and held the position of director of Health Services for Fulton County, Georgia.

We salute her impressive CV and constant advocacy for children.

Sources: https://www.patriceharrismd.com/aboutindexhttps://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/generalprofessionalissues/84916
Photo source: https://www.patriceharrismd.com/aboutindex

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