February is Black American History Month, and it is essential to spotlight the invaluable contributions of African Americans in shaping the healthcare industry, especially in hospice and end-of-life care, an often overlooked aspect of medical history.

The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to 1915 when Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland established a Black life and history study group. Over time, this evolved into the month-long celebration we now know as Black History Month, officially recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford.

The Black Community’s Contribution to Healthcare

Historically, black pioneers have played a crucial role in developing and delivering hospice care. African American women, in particular, have been unsung heroes of end-of-life care. Their dedication and compassion have helped build the essence of hospice, making it an integral part of communities across the United States. This Black History Month, it is essential to recognize and honor these individuals who have provided care and worked tirelessly to ensure that hospice services are accessible to everyone, regardless of their background.

The celebration of Black History Month offers an opportunity to shed light on the often-overlooked achievements of African Americans in medical history. From the early days of nursing to the modern hospice movement, Black individuals have made significant strides. Their contributions, unfortunately, have not always received the acknowledgment they deserve

  • James McCune Smith, M.D – In 1837, he became the first Black man to practice medicine in the United States.

  • Mary Eliza Mahoney, RN – In 1879, she became the first African American to become a professionally trained nurse in the United States.

  • Leonidas Harris Berry, M.D – In the 1950s, he worked to encourage the inclusion of more Black physicians in hospitals.

  • Chidiebere Ibe – Medical student and artist known for creating the first medical illustrations featuring Black bodies.

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A Call to Action

The purpose of Black History Month goes beyond recognizing the past. It is a call to action, encouraging communities to engage in meaningful conversations about inclusivity and diversity in healthcare. By acknowledging the pioneers of hospice care who hail from the African American community, we honor their historical contributions and look for a more inclusive and equitable future in healthcare.

Black History Month is a time to celebrate, reflect, and educate. This month serves as an invitation to explore, learn, and appreciate the diversity within the healthcare sector.

At Ascend Hospice Care, we celebrate Black History Month, focusing on the ones who have left an indelible mark on healthcare. Their stories, often untold, are an integral part of the broader narrative of Black American history. Our responsibility is to amplify these voices and ensure their contributions are appreciated and recognized.

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