Jan 29th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Discrimination Against Women

Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, started her practice in New York in 1851. Not only was she unable to find patients–no one would even rent her a room once she mentioned that she was a doctor.  After weeks of trudging the streets, she finally rented rooms from a landlady who asked no questions about what Elizabeth planned to do with them.

Quaker women, who had always been receptive to the goal of equal rights, became Elizabeth’s first patients.  But no hospital would would allow her on its staff. Finally, with financial help from her Quaker friends, Elizabeth opened her own clinic in one of New York’s worst slums.

Injustice Turned Positive

The clinic opened in March, 1853.  Elizabeth hung a sign out announcing that all patients would be treated free.  Yet, for the first few weeks, no one showed up.  Then one day, a woman in such agony that she didn’t care who treated her, staggered up the steps and collapsed in Elizabeth’s arms.

When the woman was treated and recovered, she told all her friends about the wonderful woman doctor on Seventh Street.  The dispensary was soon going well, and eventually expanded into the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which eventually became a large and thriving hospital on East Fifteenth Street.

This story makes me think about all kinds of injustice, and how – with patience – it can sometimes be turned around.

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