Offering patients compassionate, quality care is what nurses do best. Two such nurses lived this legacy while also breaking barriers for women and minorities in health care. A sizable nursing scholarship left in their name at Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation propels this pattern of Nursing excellence forward.
These two women — Willie Mena Jones-Glass and Grace M. Busey — were pioneers in the field of nursing in the 1950s when they became the first African-American nurses at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health.
Glass and Busey were best friends who transitioned from working at Red Cross Hospital, an all African-American hospital, to care for the needs of newborns, expectant mothers and other women at Jewish Hospital. This event was a major leap for two empowered women — and one their children remember well.
A Dynamic Duo
“Back then, doctors at Jewish Hospital also treated patients at Red Cross Hospital, where they met my mother, who was an OB-GYN nurse,” said Reginald Glass, Glass’ son. “They recognized her skills and dedication to caring for patients and asked her to join their team, which was a big deal back then. My mother was proud to step into this role, not only for herself, but for women and minorities like her.”
Glass was to be the first African-American registered nurse working at Jewish Hospital, but she become ill and that pushed back her start date. Always a woman who prioritized responsibility, she knew who could best fill her shoes and saw to it that Busey joined the team in her place, so that Jewish Hospital wouldn’t be short-staffed.
“Once she regained her strength, my mother joined Busey on the job, and that’s how two women made history for two decades doing what they did best — serving patients,” Reginald said.
Brenda Strickland, Busey’s daughter, remembers her mother’s dedication with pride.
“My mom was born to be a nurse,” Strickland said. “That gentle nature of hers led her to care for her neighbors, lending them the same courtesy she would patients at Jewish Hospital. That’s the caliber of nurse she was — that they both were.”
Both Glass and Busey are local healthcare celebrities. And now, with a $10,000 scholarship named in their honor, nursing students have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps, advancing quality nursing care.
Learn more about the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation and contribute to healthcare scholarship funds.
This article originally appeared in the 2017 Summer edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.