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Obit of the Day: Pediatric Pioneer
In 1949, Dr. Helen Nash was welcomed through the doors of St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She was the first African American pediatrician on staff. And when she joined the staff she immediately began to change practices in order to save the lives of infants and children. (One policy - which seems so obvious today - was to make sure each newborn was given his or her own bassinet rather than sleeping in groups. It dramatically reduced the rate of infection among infants at the hospital.)
Dr. Nash, a graduate of Spelman College and Meharry Medical College (the latter was also her father’s alma mater), would also face brutal and open discrimination as she tried to gain a foothold in the white, male-dominated field of pediatrics. Upon admitting her first patient, a little girl with typhoid, she found a note on the girl’s chart from a white doctor that read, “too bad [Dr. Nash] started treating the patient, because now we’d never know what she had.” (The comment supposes that Dr. Nash would not correctly diagnose her patients.)
Eventually Dr. Nash became accepted and honored for her work. The first African American woman brought on staff at the Washington University School of Medicine, also in 1949, the medical school now awards the Dr. Helen E. Nash Academic Achievement Award to the student who “exhibit[s] to an unusual degree the qualities of industry, perseverance, determination, and enthusiasm.” She was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Healthcare from the St. Louis American Foundation in 1996 and the 2012 St. Louis Gateway Classic Sports Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Nash passed away at the age of 91.
Sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Beacon, UniversityCityPatch.com
(Image is from the collection of the Becker Medical Library at the Washington University School of Medicine)
Two other extraordinary female physicians:
Dr. Mary Ellen Avery - whose discovery helped save hundreds of 1000s of preemies
Dr. Leila Denmark - at the time of her death, she was the world’s oldest physician
Don’t ever feel bad for how you feel.
You owe no one in this world an explanation on how you choose to live and who you choose to love.
Promise yourself happiness, the genuine kind.
Laugh often and speak truth.
Share light and wisdom to those in need even if it doesn’t “benefit”…