Each year during Black History Month, the Louisiana Department of Health reflects on the contributions of Black pioneers in medicine and the impact they have left on the industry and the country as a whole. Their work has been instrumental to advancing the well-being and improving the lives of many people.
Here are just a handful of the Black healthcare heroes who have left an indelible mark on the health of Louisianians.
The life of Vivien Thomas is an inspiring story of an African-American pioneer who overcame the barriers imposed by a segregated society. With no formal medical training, he developed techniques and tools that would lead to today's modern heart surgery. In operating rooms all over the world, great surgeons who received their training from Vivien Thomas are performing life-saving surgical procedures.
Read more here (Source: Morehouse School of Medicine).
Dr. Sandra L. Robinson
Dr. Sandra L. Robinson served as the secretary and state public health officer of the Louisiana Department of Health, then known as the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Resources, from 1984 to 1988. Appointed by Governor Edwin W. Edwards, she was one of the first two Black women to serve as a Cabinet secretary in Louisiana.
Glennis Gray currently serves as the Department’s emergency operations incidence commander, operations program manager and strategic national stockpile coordinator for the state. In these roles, she leads the state in all chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive events, and coordinates and facilitates stockpile planning for all of its components.
She has been a registered nurse for over 26 years, with more
than 26 years of experience in emergency nursing and 25 years in case
management, education and nursing administration. She’s also a part-time
emergency department nurse at Baton Rouge General Hospital.
Nikki Honore’ currently serves as the Department’s statewide nurse consultant for emergency preparedness. In this role, she provides programmatic supervision and training for healthcare professionals across the state of Louisiana who deliver medical support for multiple state-run medical operations. In addition, she develops strategies and identifies training opportunities to build capacity and resiliency in Louisiana communities during disasters.
She is a board
certified family nurse practitioner with over 12 years of experience as a
clinical practitioner, educator, consultant and nurse leader. She is also a
pediatric clinical adjunct instructor at Southern University’s School of Nursing.
Dr. Mark Colomb
As director of Jackson State University, Lafayette-born Dr. Mark Colomb cultivated the development of the Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC) where he served as project director/principal investigator for 13 federally- and state-funded projects from 1999 to 2003. He secured more than $9 million in grant funding, establishing Jackson State as a premier HIV/AIDS prevention training agency while serving as the lead entity for four regional organizations providing HIV/AIDS prevention training to African American community-based organizations throughout the U.S. and its territories. Dr. Colomb was also founder of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Dr. Colomb played an integral role in shaping state and national HIV/AIDS policy legislation, particularly on behalf of African Americans, by working with a variety of constituents from grassroots advocacy groups to national legislative bodies.