ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – The local nursing community is mourning the loss of Rosa Wims, a trailblazer in Rochester’s medical field and beyond, and one of the first African-American nurses in our area.
Wims died over the weekend at the age of 100. As the Rochester Regional Health community describes, her legacy will continue to live on.
Rosa Wims was the first African-American aide to work at Rochester General Hospital, where she would go on to become a licensed practical nurse. Leaders with RRH are reflecting on the impact she’s made on generations, as well as the generations to come.
“One of the things we talk about with our career in nursing is the ability to protect the public. She did that in the care she provided, but also in the outreach she had in the community and making sure people had the staples of life: food, access, health care. She went out and really focused on that for her own family and her own community, and again, in the health system as a nurse that she provided the care for,” said Dr. Victoria Record, president, Rochester General College of Health Careers and Isabella Graham Hart School of Nursing.
Wims was one of the first black LPN’s to work at Rochester Regional Health, which would break barriers in the local medical field.
She founded the Rosa Wims Family Wellness Center, and notably, fed hundreds each Thanksgiving by providing free meals for over three decades.
In honor of her 100th birthday last year, a scholarship was made in Wims’ name through RRH atr the Isabella Graham Hart School of Nursing.
“Specifically, we look for diverse students that are trying to get to a different place in their life that have the qualities that she had: caring, commitment, community service,” said Dr. Record.
Wims would pave the way for the many others to follow in her footsteps.
“For individuals like me to see someone like her as a role model, knowing that there was nothing I could not obtain. I went into medicine because I wanted to help the community and so seeing individuals like her giving back to the community, whether it was in her church or taking care of her patients, gave me hope that I could actually do it as well,” said Dr. Lekeyah Wilson, medical director of community pediatrics and wellness for RRH.
Rochester Regional Health officials say the organization plans to hold a memorial for Wims in the near future.