Mamie Odessa Hale
The key to Arkansas midwifery
Mamie Odessa Hale was a notable figure in public health nursing and midwifery. Born in 1910 in West Virginia, she attended a teachers college, and later went on to attend one of the few programs open to Black nurses, the Tuskegee School of Nurse Midwifery for Colored Nurses in Alabama in 1941.
Hale served a key role in the Arkansas Department of Health as a midwife consultant where she provided formal training to midwives throughout the state. She supported these midwives with education and supervision during the birthing process, birth registration of deliveries, and midwife permit registration. Hale also developed her own need-based educational programs for midwives throughout the varying counties in Arkansas. Her work and commitment to maternal and public health are evident as Arkansas demonstrated a large decrease in maternal mortality rates in the 1950’s.
Advocacy Note: Supported by all three nurse congresswomen, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 was recently re-introduced in Congress — call your representative to help the pass the only bill written to address the Black maternal health crisis.
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Know Your History
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- Breaking Bias in Healthcare, an online course created by scientist Anu Gupta, to learn how bias is related to our brain’s neurobiology and can be mitigated with mindfulness.
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