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Dorothy Jones- the First African-American Nurse and Nurse Manager

Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center is celebrating the past and embracing the future during our 125th celebration this year. As we focus on the great strides made in patient care and our hopes and dreams for the future, we also reflect upon the people who have helped us become the Medical Center we are today.

Dorothy Jones attended McKinley Park Elementary School and Washington Jr. High School, where she graduated in 1939. In 1942, she graduated from Joliet Township High School, and went on to receive her nursing certification from Provident School of Nursing in 1946. She became the first African-American nurse at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center and the first African-American nurse manager as well.

Dorothy started at Saint Joseph's Hospital in the Nursery at the Broadway building in the 1950's. After the move to the current location, Dorothy moved to Labor and Delivery, where she was responsible for the research, planning, and development of the present LDRP department - now known as the Family Birthing Suites at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center. 

She went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of St. Francis in 1981 and her Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from the College of St. Francis in 1990. After 40 years of serving as a nurse, Dorothy retired Saint Joseph Hospital in 1994.

Her service to the community did not stop there, however. After retiring, she went on to serve as:

  • Chairperson of the JACOB Joliet Area Church Based Organizing Body Sacred Heart Core Team 
  • Member of JACOB Executive Committee 
  • Member of JACOB Personnel Board 
  • Member of Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations 
  • Chicago Chapter of Senior Friends of Michael Reese Hospital 
  • the Council of Catholic Women at Sacred Heart Church 
  • Chairperson of the Governing Board Will County Community Health Department

Dorothy has also received several honors for her achievements and service, including:

  • Emeritus Member of the Joliet Junior College Advisory Board
  • 1998 Women of the Year - Council  of Catholic Women
  • Jacob Leadership Award 2001
  • 2003 Lewis University DeLaSalle Award

Dorothy passed away after a life full of service on March 5, 2006.

Dorothy's daughters all went on to also serve in the medical community, including her daughter Patricia Meade, RN, BSN, who is an employee at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in the PACU. Pat has been with the Medical Center for over 20 years.  Dorothy's daughters Denise Kelly, RN, BSN, MJ (Masters of Jurisprudence in Health Law) works at Christ Hospital as a Clinical Team Leader Surgery, and Mary E. Jones, M.D. is currently Director of Advocate Christ Medical Center/ Hope Children's Hospital Pediatric Outpatient Clinic.

Dorothy Jones (center, seated) instilled the values of serving the community in her daughters (left to right) Mary E. Jones, M.D., who is currently Director of Advocate Christ Medical Center/ Hope Children's Hospital Pediatric Outpatient Clinic; Patricia Meade, RN, BSN, who is an employee at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in the PACU; and Denise Kelly, RN, BSN, MJ (Masters of Jurisprudence in Health Law) who works at Christ Hospital as a Clinical Team Leader Surgery.

"At her funeral, it was asked that every person my mom helped deliver stand up - so many, many people stood up, and it was so touching to see that they remembered her. People tell me what a loving, giving and caring person she was. She was always there to comfort her patients, and she would even come in special on her days off to be with women if they wanted her there," says Patricia Meade, who was recently named Woman of the Year Kappa Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, whose focus is to provide service to the community. "She had cancer for many years before she passed, and she continued to serve the community even while she was sick. At one point, she was out marching in the rain for the rights of the elderly even though she only had one lung after one was removed due to cancer. Nothing stopped her!  She inspired me to be there for others and to always take that one extra step; to put my needs in the background and the needs of others first."


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