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Diversity Reflections

Facts about Women's History at Wake Forest Baptist

Our first female CEO, vascular surgeon Julie Freischlag, MD, joined Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in April 2017 from University of California Davis, where she was Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine. She was also the first woman surgery chair and surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins.

Linda J. Porrino, PhD, joined our Wake Forest School of Medicine faculty in 1990 and became a professor of Physiology and Pharmacology in 1997. In 2009, she became the first female basic science department chair.

Marjorie Bowman, MD, MPH, became the first woman to chair a department, leading the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She later founded the same department at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

What is now known as the Progressive Care Building was once the Blanche Barrus Nurses' Home named in honor of Blanche Barrus, who worked on obtaining her medical degree in order to become a medical missionary, but died before completing her internship.

Dr. Lucille Hutaff joined the faculty at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine in 1945 as Instructor in Medicine, and was the first woman to hold the rank of full professor at Bowman Gray.

Dr. Jean Bailey Brooks was the only female in the Bowman Gray School of Medicine medical class of 1944, and later became the first female president of Bowman Gray’s Medical Alumni Association.

Dr. Katherine Anderson joined Bowman Gray School of Medicine (now Wake Forest School of Medicine) as Associate Professor of Pediatrics in 1968. She later took on the supervision and developmental planning of the new Physician’s Assistant Program and remained director of the program from 1969 until her retirement in 1976.

The first laboratory technician at North Carolina Baptist Hospital was Miss Gladys Roberts of Jackson, Mississippi, who later served as Housemother to the Hospital’s first class of nursing students in the mid-1920s.

In September 1923, the first nursing students at North Carolina Baptist Hospital, all female, wore uniforms that were “a nice shade of blue with white gored aprons, long sleeves, stiff cuffs buttoned on, and a stiff ‘Buster Brown’ collar”.

Miss Edna L. Heinzerling, RN, was elected the first director of nurses for North Carolina Baptist Hospital at the first North Carolina Baptist Hospital Commission Meeting held at the Robert E. Lee Hotel on April 26, 1922.

Before the first patient was admitted, the first North Carolina Baptist Hospital Auxillary, which was composed of women representing each Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, cut and sewed all operating room and obstetrical linens, bed gowns, ward curtains and net sash curtains for every bedroom in the Hospital.

In May 1923, the first patient at North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Mrs. Spease, was admitted to the Hospital by Miss Olivia Hall, the first accountantin the Admissions Office.

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