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Generous gift used to repair JMC’s rotunda

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Jacobi Medical Center held its first-ever dedication ceremony Tuesday, November 11. The Bronx’s largest public hospital doesn’t often receive hefty donations.

But Dr. Mildred Morehead, an epidemiologist and quality assurance visionary, left Jacobi $100,000. Her donation helped fund the renovation of Jacobi Rotunda, an auditorium the hospital uses for ongoing medical education.

Morehead served as a Jacobi attending physician from 1977 through 1988, was granted Emeritus status in 1992 and passed away in 2006.

“My aunt thought very highly of Jacobi,” Morehead’s nephew Harry Morehead said. “She wanted to support Jacobi in a way that was consistent with her life’s work, and knew her contribution would help Jacobi teach the medical community about the importance of patient care and safety.”

A talented academic who skimmed the Amazon River for microbes, Morehead was best known for her efforts in quality assurance – systems for measuring, monitoring and ensuring safe care. In some cases, quality assurance means interpreting a complex matrix. In other cases, it means washing your hands.

And then, there weren’t many female physicians working in the Bronx four decades ago.

“She was ahead of her time,” Hannah Nelson, Jacobi’s associate executive director, said. “Quality assurance was her cause in the 1980s and 90s. Now every hospital publishes a report card.”

Morehead joined the faculty of Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Department of Community Health in 1968. Jacobi is a teaching hospital affiliated with Albert Einstein; at the hospital Morehead mentored a steady stream of doctors-in-training.

The Jacobi Rotunda hosts courses and conferences, including an annual Warren Wetzel Trauma Symposium. Ten years old, the symposium attracts hundreds of trauma specialists. But worn-out rotunda seats nearly forced Jacobi to abandon the event.

“The auditorium was in disrepair,” said Director of Development Linda Loeb. “Dr. Morehead’s generosity allowed us to upgrade magnificen­tly.”

Community groups use the Jacobi Rotunda as well – groups like Bronx Spotlight Theatre.

The Jacobi Medical Center Auxiliary performed last week’s dedication, which Morehead’s relatives from Florida and North Carolina attended. The auxiliary is Jacobi’s philanthropic arm.

Many hospitals in the city are accustomed to private donations. Morehead’s was the first to finance a major project at Jacobi.

“This was a seminal gift for us,” Loeb said. “At other hospitals, every other ward is named after a donor. We haven’t had that. She’s set an example.”

William P. Walsh, Jacobi’s executive director, agreed. “Our medical center benefitted greatly from [Morehead’s] service during her long career and her generous gift will keep her spirit alive as future generations of healthcare professionals learn in this facility,” Walsh said.

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