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Celebrating Black History Month

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Black History Month was first recognized at the federal level in 1976. In celebrating Black History Month, we honor the achievements and contributions of Black Americans throughout history. At UI Health, we’re celebrating this month by sharing accomplishments in the field of healthcare.

As a reminder that history is made every single day – not just generations ago – this year, we'll highlight more recent accomplishments by Black Americans. One such remarkable accomplishment was made by Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett, Ph.D., a critical researcher and leader at the National Institutes of Health, during the development and design of the mRNA vaccine concept that Moderna used to produce a COVID-19 vaccine in 2020. Corbett and her team played a significant role in the US's response to the global pandemic by making a safe vaccine candidate within months of the virus being identified and in sequence, a process that has taken years in the past.

History was also made in 2019 when the first African American woman was sworn in as the president of the American Medical Association, Dr. Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA. The American Medical Association is the largest and only national association that convenes over 190 state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. Dr. Harris is a psychiatrist from Atlanta who held numerous Board positions with the AMA before being sworn in as president.

Chicago is also home to plenty of history makers. Sista Yaa Simpson, MPH, is a veteran, advocate, and community epidemiologist for the Association of Clinical Trial Services (TACTS) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). TACTS is a Black, women-led, and veteran-owned business that is the only one of its kind in Illinois. Sista Yaa was recently honored by the HIV Prevention Trials Network for the 2022 Black History Month Excellence in the Community Spotlight for her 25 years of service in HIV research.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we also like to hear from our fellow employees. Maurice Henderson, Customer Service Specialist (Patient Experience Navigator), shares what drew him to healthcare. “I have been a patient at UI Health’s MSHC since I was a child and have been a part of this community my entire life. When I would visit the clinic when I was younger, I would watch the staff behind the desk and say, ‘I’m going to do that one day.’”

Feyi Sangoleye, Administrative Nurse III (Patient Logistics and Transfer Center), discusses how she gives back to her community. “I am a member of the American Nursing Association (ANA) and Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. Both organizations partner with other healthcare organizations/foundations and provide me the opportunity to give back to the community via speaking engagements, health outreach programs, and donations for nursing scholarships.”

We're also proud to have Dr. Nicole C. P. Thompson, MD, Division Chief of Global Health (Department of Anesthesiology, and Dr. Trevonne Thompson, MD, Director of the Division of Medical Toxicology (Department of Emergency Medicine) at UI Health. Both doctors are alums of the Xavier University of Louisiana, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Dr. Nicole Thompson shares that “Xavier produces more African American graduates who complete medical school, as well as graduates who achieve PhDs in the life sciences, than any other university in the United States. HBCUs provide a diverse and inclusive educational experience in a supportive environment for under-resourced communities. Attending Xavier University of Louisiana was one of the best decisions of my life.”

Visit Celebrate.UIHealth.Care to learn more about Black History Month and to read employee spotlights.