Friday, November 22, 2013

Maternal Health and Dr. Susan

The Hospital that Dr. Susan Picotte founded.
On Monday we highlighted Dr. Susan Picotte, a pioneering woman who was the first Native American to become a physician. Dr. Picotte grew up on the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska. After graduating from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania she returned home to open her own practice on the reservation. She worked tirelessly to provide health care that her reservation desperately needed. Her path began with her father, also the tribal chief, who always encouraged her, and other tribal members, to pursue education. As a child she saw and experienced the injustice and inequality that existed around her. Later in life she cited an experience of watching a woman die, because a white doctor refused to treat her, as inspiration for her pursuing a medical degree. Her life’s goal was to open a hospital in the reservation town of Walthill. This was finally realized towards the end of her life.

Rose and Olowo-n'djo at a maternal health clinic
founded by Alaffia
Olowo-n’djo also grew up in an environment where health care was not readily available to everyone, and even the clinics that did exist were consistently under-staffed and under-supported. Like Dr. Picotte, Olowo-n’djo has made it his life’s mission to correct these inequalities and create an environment where all people can grow up healthy and pursue their dream of a better life. Both were spurred by death and suffering they witnessed around them to push, provide, and keep fighting to offer health care to those who need it most. The Alaffia Maternal Health Program provides care to over 1,000 women every year and is constantly growing in its capabilities and its reach. As Alaffia grows, so too does its ability to meet Olowo-n’djo’s dream of providing women a safe place to bring  new life into the world.

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