Florence Wald has watched enough terminally ill patients die during her nursing career to know that people choose strikingly varied ways in which to spend the end of their lives.
“Some would not want to give up any kind of therapy that still could have the possibility of cure,” she said. “But what happens now is patients who don’t want to go through those treatments anymore have an alternative.”
Wald, 81, introduced America to the hospice tradition, with the 1974 opening in New Haven, Conn., of the nation’s first home-care program devoted to treating the terminally ill through palliative and psychological care.
On Saturday, she was one of 21 women inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
The ceremony takes place annually in this upstate New York village where the first women’s rights convention was held 150 years ago in July 1848. The Hall of Fame honors women who have made valuable contributions to society and to the progress and freedom of women.
The induction came in the middle of the annual convention of the National Organization for Women in nearby Rochester, at which First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was to speak.
Five of this year’s 10 living honorees attended the induction: Wald; Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics; Shirley Ann Jackson, the first chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Roxanne Ridgway, foreign policy advisor to six presidents; and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was greeted by a few dozen people protesting U.S. sanctions against Iraq.
Among those honored posthumously were Julia Ward Howe, the suffragist and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Wald, a former dean of the Yale School of Nursing, believes that while medical science has given doctors new ways to control disease, “their focus on the patient as a human being was eroded.”
She believes the hospice tradition, begun in London in the late 1960s, has helped redress the doctor-patient relationship.
“There are times when the symptoms can’t be controlled, and the physician and nurses and others need to meet that patient and let the patient decide for themselves what they want,” she said.
The 250,000-member NOW chose Rochester for its meeting because this was the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony in a region at the forefront of the 19th century women’s rights movement.
The annual meeting was scheduled to end today.
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Hall of Fame’s New Members
The 21 women inducted Saturday into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y.:
* Madeleine Albright, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before she became the first woman appointed secretary of State in 1996.
* Maya Angelou, known for her 1970 autobiographical novel, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning,” which she recited at President Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.
* Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone, a sex-education pioneer.
* Joan Ganz Cooney, founder of the Children’s Television Workshop for Public Television and creator of “Sesame Street.”
* Shirley Ann Jackson, first woman to chair the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
* Shannon W. Lucid, astronaut who set the U.S. record for the longest spaceflight.
* Ambassador Roxanne Ridgway, foreign policy advisor to six presidents.
* Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics.
* Beverly Sills, an opera star who became the first woman chair at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York.
* Florence Wald, founder of the hospice movement in the U.S. and former dean of the Yale School of Nursing.
Those honored posthumously:
* Lydia Moss Bradley (1816-1908), founder of Bradley University in Peoria, Ill.
* Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893), educator and abolitionist.
* Nelly Bly, born Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (1864-1922), investigative journalist.
* Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori (1896-1957), first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences.
* Sarah Grimke (1792-1873) and Angelina Grimke Weld (1805-1879), sisters who championed abolition of slavery and women’s rights.
* Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), suffragist and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
* Katharine Dexter McCormick (1875-1967), co-founder of the League of Women Voters.
* Edith Nourse Rogers (1881-1960), Massachusetts congresswoman who introduced the GI Bill of Rights.
* Felice N. Schwartz (1925-1996), founder of an organization that works to foster women’s leadership.
* Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997), a pioneering nuclear scientist.
Source: Associated Press