Hidden History: Dr. Sarah Garland Jones changed the face of healthcare in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Her portrait is a focal point inside a new healthy living center founded in her name. However, her story is often unrecognized until now.

“We know about Maggie Walker, we know about other folks, but who knew about Dr. Sarah Garland Jones? There’s a movie out now called Hidden Figures. In many ways, she’s a hidden figure in medicine,” says Albert Walker.

Walker, the Director of Healthy Communities for Bon Secours Richmond Health System, explains Dr. Jones was the first black woman licensed to practice medicine in Virginia.

She earned her degree from Howard University in 1893. Two years later, Walker says she opened her own clinic in Jackson Ward.

“She destroyed categories around race and gender,” he adds. “She had both black and white patients, and it just gives you a sense in that time period how serious and how great and dedicated she was to the excellence of her work.”

Walker says Dr. Jones was instrumental in starting what is now Bon Secours Richmond Community Hospital in Church Hill.

In many ways, she continues her mission to help others even today.

“People only really die and we lose them if we forget their memory,” Walker says. “So it’s only fitting that we keep her memory alive. She’s doing great things. Some big shoes to fill, though.”

The Bon Secours Sarah Garland Jones Center for Healthy Living also just opened in the East End. It offers residents several different programs to improve their well-being.

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