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17 November 2000

A Women's Health Wall of Honor

Four UCSF members are praised for their contributions to women's health in a special hall of honor display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

The display is part of the "The Changing Face of Women's Health" exhibit, which runs at the Exploratorium though January 1, 2001.

Among the 26 Bay Area individuals honored are UCSF's Carroll Estes, Nancy Milliken, Dorothy Rice, and Patricia Robertson.

The following is the text from panels in the Exploratorium display:

Providing for health and economic security of elderly women has long been the focus of Carroll Estes’ work. A consultant to the Committee on Aging in both the US House and Senate for more than two decades, Estes focuses on how cutting social programs affects the elderly, particularly elderly women.

As the founding director of the UCSF Institute for Health and Aging, Estes conducted comprehensive national studies on the delivery and financing of health and social services for the elderly. Her groundbreaking work exposing the economic barriers that elderly women face in getting the health care they need has kept Social Security, Medicare, and prescription charges on the public policy agenda.

Estes' expertise and vision in outlining these inequities have led to several prominent health and social policy positions at the local, state and federal levels of government, where she could act on her findings. But no matter what professional capacity Estes speaks from – professor, author, administrator, advocate – the interests of elderly women are always front and center.

"I am unbelievably fortunate to have had two empowering, courageous, visionary women mentors – founders of the Gray Panthers, Maggie Kuhn, and the Older Women’s League, Tish Sommers. Aging is a woman’s issue. I work on policy solutions to advance the health and economic security of mid-life and older women." – Carroll Estes

Nancy Milliken sees her role as a women’s health advocate as something far broader than simply providing quality medical care. For Milliken, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCSF, guaranteeing women equal opportunities in the workplace is just as important. As director of UCSF’s National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, Milliken has implemented widespread improvements in leadership development for women, research and academic programs, community education, and comprehensive clinical care. Her efforts helped create an integrated network of first-rate health care for a diverse cross section of Bay Area women.

To expand the scope and support of this network, Milliken initiated a mentor program at UCSF to encourage young women to enter the field of women’s health. Treating women’s health as an issue of both body and mind, Milliken has changed the fundamental approach of delivering health care to women, which will be a lasting legacy for her patients, students, and colleagues.

For over 50 years, Dorothy Rice has been calculating the financial costs of disease and charting the course of the nation’s public health policy.

A professor emeritus at the UCSF Institute for Health and Aging, Rice’s latest figure crunching feat helped strengthen federal lawsuits against tobacco companies.

Rice started her career as a health economist in Washington, DC in the 1940s. She stayed there for more than 40 years, documenting the costs of such illnesses as heart disease, cancer and stroke, and laying the foundation for medical programs to treat them. When her research found that half of the nation’s elderly had either no or very poor health insurance, Medicare was enacted.

Rice helped create the statistical methods for Medicare that are still used today. The author of more than 200 articles, books and studies, Rice has devoted her life to developing and managing the nation's health care information system.

"I have been privileged to have been involved over a long career in the federal government and at the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California at San Francisco in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of statistics on the health of the nation. My research in the economics of medical care, aging, chronic illness, women’s health, disability, health statistics, and cost-of-illness studies has been exciting, challenging and rewarding." -- Dorothy Rice.

For years, the health needs of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women were either ignored or misunderstood. Patricia Robertson has devoted more than two decades to researching and meeting these needs, from educating doctors and health care providers to encouraging women to speak openly about their sexual orientation. As co-founder of Lyon-Martin Women’s Health Services, Robertson was a pioneer in lesbian health care, providing a place for low-income and lesbian women in the Bay Area to get quality medical care.

Underscoring the significance of her efforts, new research suggests that lesbians may face special risks, including a higher risk of breast cancer than heterosexual women. And now, as co-director of the Lesbian Health Research Center at UCSF, she has developed an education and outreach program for doctors to make their patients aware of the risks.

A consistent and visionary voice, Robertson has helped create comprehensive medical services for lesbians, both locally and nationally. But her commitment to meeting the needs of underserved women will have a lasting impact on the health and welfare of all women.

"I was inspired to do research in lesbian health care when I was an intern and co-founded Lyon-Martin Clinic for lesbians in San Francisco twenty-two years ago. Today I am helping to open a UCSF primary care practice for lesbians, which will include the training of medical and nurse practitioner students in lesbian health. We must develop a national research agenda to further study the health needs of lesbians." – Patricia Robertson

Members of the UCSF campus community will have an opportunity to view the women's health hall of honor and the "Changing Face of Women's Health" exhibit at a special evening at the Exploratorium on Monday, December, 4, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (See Daybreak story) for more details.


Exploratorium -- Changing Face of Women's Health

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