MCHD salutes Dr. Williams as part of Black History Month

February 3, 2022

MCHD salutes Dr. Williams as part of Black History Month

MOBILE, Ala. — In celebration of Black History Month and with February 4 being National Wear Red Day, the Mobile County Health Department’s Health Equity Office would like to highlight Dr. Daniel Hale Williams.

Williams founded the first black-owned hospital in America and performed the world’s first successful heart surgery in 1893. Williams was born in 1858 in Hollidaysburg, Penn.

He started as a shoemaker, but quickly knew he wanted more education. He completed secondary school in Wisconsin. At age 20, Williams became an apprentice to a former surgeon general for Wisconsin. Williams studied medicine at Chicago Medical College.

In 1894, Dr. Williams became chief surgeon of Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., the most prestigious medical post available to African Americans then. There, he made improvements that reduced the hospital’s mortality rate.

In 1895, he helped to organize the National Medical Association for black professionals, who were barred from the American Medical Association. In 1913, he became the first African American to be inducted into the American College of Surgeons. Until this day, a “code blue” at the Howard University Hospital emergency room is called a “Dr. Dan.”

“A people who don’t make provision for their own sick and suffering are not worthy of civilization,” said Dr. Williams

How does support from others help you care for your heart? Many studies show that having positive, close relationships and feeling connected to others helps our blood pressure, weight, overall health, and more. Research shows that even a text message can improve self-care. Connect with friends or family for support.

Ask them to text reminders or encouragement to help you meet your goals. Make new friends who share your goals. Join an online exercise class or a weight management group to connect with other like-minded people and stay motivated.

Earlier this year, MCHD established a leadership-level health equity office to address health disparities in Mobile County. Funding came from the National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities.

The new MCHD office will be responsible for evaluating internal and external programs and policies, identifying weaknesses, and laying a foundation for serving vulnerable communities through a health equity lens.