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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

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

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Throughout the fall semester, we will be highlighting #DiversityInHealthcare on our social media. This week we are focusing on Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African-American woman physician in the U.S.

Born Rebecca Davis in Delaware on February 8, 1831, Rebecca was raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania, who spent much of her time caring for the ill and may have influenced her career choice.

By 1852 she had moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, where she worked as a nurse for the next eight years. In 1860, she was admitted to the New England Female Medical College. When she graduated in 1864, Rebecca was the first African American woman in the United States to earn an M.D. degree, and the only African American woman to graduate from the New England Female Medical College (the school closed its doors in 1873.).

A few statistics help put her remarkable achievement in perspective. In 1860, there were only 300 women out of 54,543 physicians in the United States and none of them were African-American. As late as 1920, there were only 65 African-American women doctors in the United States.

Dr. Crumpler practiced in Boston for a short while before moving to Richmond, Virginia, after the Civil War ended in 1865. She joined other black physicians caring for freed slaves who would otherwise have had no access to medical care, working with the Freedmen’s Bureau, and missionary and community groups, even though black physicians experienced intense racism working in the postwar South.

In 1883, Crumpler published A Book of Medical Discourses from the notes she kept over the course of her medical career. Dedicated to nurses and mothers, it focused on the medical care of women and children.

No photos or other images survive of Dr. Crumpler. The little we know about her comes from the introduction to her book, a remarkable mark of her achievements as a physician and medical writer in a time when very few African Americans were able to gain admittance to medical college, let alone publish. Her book is one of the very first medical publications by an African American.

Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler died on March 9, 1895.

https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_73.html

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/celebrating-rebecca-lee-crumpler-first-african-american-physician

Post written by Stefanie Lapka.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Dr. Joycelyn Elders grew up in rural and segregated Arkansas. She didn’t even meet a doctor until she was 16 years old, but she heard a speech by Dr. Edith Irby Jones while she was in college and decided to become a physician. She is an Army veteran who attended medical school on the G.I. bill.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders standing at podium
She worked in the realms of both clinical practice and research and was the first person to be board certified in pediatric endocrinology in the state of Arkansas. In 1993, she was appointed and confirmed as the fifteenth Surgeon General of the United States – the first African American and second woman to hold that position.

While she was a controversial figure during her time as Surgeon General, she was always able to spark conversation about previously taboo topics in the name of improving adolescent health.

She spoke on race and health at UH this past November where I was able to take this photo. What an honor to have such a role model here on campus!

More information is available here: https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_98.html

Dr. Patricia Bath – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

This week’s #DiversityInHealthcare highlight is ophthalmologist Dr. Patricia Bath.

Dr. Patricia Bath portrait

Patricia Bath was born in 1942 in Harlem. She was inspired by Dr. Albert Schweitzer and her own family physician, Dr. Cecil Marquez, to pursue a career in medicine. She attended medical school at Howard University, had a fellowship at Columbia, and completed her residency at NYU.
The “firsts” achieved by Bath are too numerous to name, but among them are being the first African-American Ophthalmology resident at NYU, inventing the discipline of community ophthalmology, becoming the first woman on the faculty at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute, co-founding the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, and inventing the laserphaco probe and method for removing cataracts. WOW.
Dr. Patricia Bath spent her long and illustrious career working to reduce racial disparities in ophthalmic care and in doing so was able to restore sight to people who had been blind for over 30 years.

More info is available at https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_26.html

Photo source: https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/static/img/portraits/26.jpg

Dr. Mae Jemison – #DiversityInHealthcare

Diversity in Healthcare

Throughout the fall semester, we will be highlighting #DiversityInHealthcare on our social media. This week we are focusing on Mae Jemison.

Dr. Mae Jemison in space suit

Mae Jemison is best known as the first African-American woman in space, taking part in the STS-47 mission in September of 1992.
Prior to her time at NASA, Jemison attended medical school at Cornell and worked as a general practitioner. She also served as a medical officer in the Peace Corps for two+ years. Much of her work since NASA has focused on biotechnology and furthering STEM education for children.
Dr. Jemison has an impressive career, and she is also an informative and inspirational speaker. I had the opportunity to sit front and center for her John P. McGovern Award Lecture at the 2015 Medical Library Association meeting, and it was both fun and thought-provoking.
Dr. Mae Jemison, breaking barriers – on Earth and beyond – since 1956.

More info is available at https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_168.html

Photo source: https://images.nasa.gov/details-S92-40463