To patients and their families, the two Caribbean women are much more than medical specialists who are on top of their world.
In short, Dr. Millicent Comrie, director and founder of the Center for Women’s Health, Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and Dr. Velma Scantlebury, Associate Director of the Division of Transplantation at Christiana Care Transplant Center in Delaware are literally and figuratively life savers. They are two of America’s most highly rated physician whose skill in the surgery and clinics, knowledge of the human body and the way it works and the lengths to which they routinely go to treat the sick extend far beyond the call of duty.
That reputation built up over decades of success in returning severely ill patients to fully active and productive daily lives, explains why the Society of Foreign Consuls, a 91-year-old international organization that represents the world’s largest consular corps in New York devoted several hours on a recent Friday evening to the recognition of the major contributions of the medical experts whose passion for health care is widely hailed by their peers and the communities they serve.
“The Society is proud to acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of each of the recipients to her respective communities,” was the way the body put it to scores of people from the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa and the U.S. who attended an International Women’s Day celebration that hailed “women leaders in our communities.”
A dozen women, most of them scientists, physicians, academicians, researchers, entrepreneurs and business executives were the recipients of verbal and floral bouquets for being remarkable role models on in clinics, hospitals, research laboratories in city government, the fashion industry, bio-technology, historical research, research laboratories and philanthropy.
“This is our signature event” and it recognizes the empowerment of women,” said Jana Trnovcova, Slovakia’s Consul-General in New York.
When time came to turn the spotlight on Dr. Comrie, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Brooklyn, Hermon Lamont, Jamaica’s Consul-General introduced her as a “phenomenal woman” in both the U.S. and her native Jamaica. She is a top-notch medical specialist who has consistently been praised and honored as one of the top doctors in the metropolitan area. For example, the widely read New York Magazine placed her in the carefully chosen select of the leading 100 physicians in the metropolitan area for three years in a row.
The Jamaican, who is particularly interested in the care and management of women suffering from fibroids and in their menopausal years has established the Fibroid Center, the only facility of its kind in Brooklyn that offers an “integrated gynecological and or radiological approach to treatment of the illness which strikes a disproportionate number of women of color in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
Trained at Downstate Medical Center of the State University of New York, one of the country’s best-known medical schools, Dr. Comrie has in turn risen to be an assistant clinical OBGY professor at her alma mater and has led several medical missions to her birthplace. She has extended her practice through an informative weekly radio talk show on health that “keeps the community informed on health matters, “according to the Society.
“Over the past several years, she has increased community outreach and forged alliances with community organizations to improve women’s health,” stated the Society. “Dr. Comrie is responsible for savings the uterus of many women” who without her deft handling would not been able to give birth to their own babies.
“I have a love for what I do,” said the extensively honored specialist who served as the director of the Myrtle Ferguson Girls Rescue center in Kingston.
As she explained it, the driving force behind her work is the desire to improve women’s health.
“Education is the best weapon” in the hands of surgeons and other health care professionals, she asserted.
Dr. Scantlebury, who is from Barbados, shares that passion and she puts it into practice as among the country’s most prominent kidney transplant surgeons.
The first Black woman to perform a kidney transplant in any part of the world, Dr. Scantlebury has spent the past eight years as the Associate Director at Christiana Care Transplant Center in Delaware where she also heads the outpatient clinics and the kidney transplant program.
The organ transplant specialist, a graduate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons was also trained in multi-organ transplantation surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical center where she moved through the ranks, becoming an associate professor in transplantation. In 2002, she moved to the University of South Alabama Medical Center as the director of its Transplant center and remained for six years before moving to Delaware in 2008.
She has performed more than 1, 000 surgeries and has been honored by a range of national organizations, including the National Kidney Foundation’s Gift of Life and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“Dr. Scantlebury is truly a trailblazer for women and is a personal inspiration” to women across the U.S. and Caribbean, said Dr. Donna Hunte-Cox, Barbados’ Consul-General in New York.
“She has faced discrimination common to Blacks and women” throughout her career,” added Dr. Hunte-Cox in an introduction at the Bohemian National Hall on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
“God blessed me with a talent that has enabled me to give people a new lease on life,” she said after receiving the award.
After receiving the award, she praised her mother’s tenacity and drive that enabled the family, especially the surgeon to overcome the “obstacles” and challenges spawned by racial prejudice. For instance, a guidance counselor at her Brooklyn high school on hearing she wanted to become a physician suggested she abandon the dream because she wasn’t “university material.”
Another put=-down was a remark that she had only gained entry to the highly prized Columbia University Medical College because she was Black, an inference that she hadn’t earned her place.
The Society’s other honorees were from Algeria, Hungary, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Russian federation, Slovak republic, Switzerland and Turkey.