As we close out Women’s History Month, and #healthcareheroes emerges as a new hashtag, how fitting that this piece in the New York Times reminds us that some of the country’s first heroes in health care were religious sisters. While this piece focuses on the sisters and nuns that poured out of their Philadelphia neighborhood convents to tend to those ravaged by the 1918 pandemic, religious sisters have been in the United States since 1727.
Too often the images of religious sisters are limited to stereotypes in the extreme: either unfeeling or angelic, and seldom someone in between. In truth, the sisters in the United States were pioneers: on the prairie, in the battlefield (Abraham Lincoln thanked them for their nursing during the Civil War), in the laboratory, and of course, the classroom. They were also pioneers in the boardroom; these women were CEOs of hospitals and universities, at a time when very few, if any, American women were allowed to run major institutions. So, as we confront Covid-19, and celebrate those who have dedicated their lives to healthcare, let’s remember some of the first career women, who built many of the country’s hospitals, including the first Mayo Clinic. Read More Here