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Elinor A. Graham ’70M (MD)

Elinor A. Graham

Dr. Elinor (Ellie) Graham has devoted her career to providing medical care and building community-based support for families living in poverty. A pediatrician for more than 35 years, her work was rooted in a belief that the health of a community is highly related to the socio-economic status of the individual or group. Retired in 2009, Dr. Graham is associate professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Dr. Graham attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, for three and a half years, and then completed her pre-med course work at Portland State College in Oregon in 1966. One of two women in the incoming class that fall at Rochester, she recruited classmates to volunteer with her at migrant worker camps along Lake Ontario. She also joined with other classmates to form a chapter of the National Student Health Organization at Rochester where they worked with local African American teens to do education and screening for lead poisoning. Her pediatric internship and junior residency was part of the “Lincoln Collective” that set up a community-based pediatric training program at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx. Following this, she joined community activists from the East Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization to help set up the Mud Creek Health Project, a rural clinic that continues to operate today in Floyd County, Kentucky. Her senior residency was completed in ambulatory pediatrics at the Charleston Area Medical Center, a division of West Virginia University Medical School.

In the 1980s, she served as director of the Children and Youth Clinic at the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, and in 1988, Dr. Graham helped establish Seattle’s first high school clinic, the Rainier Beach Teen Health Center. She also co-founded the Parents for Student Success, designed to teach disadvantaged parents how to be more effective advocates for their children’s education. After earning her master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins University in 1993, she worked at Harborview Medical Center, a county hospital and regional trauma center that is the first stop in care for new immigrants and refugees in the community. In 1994, Dr. Graham co-established the award-winning Community House Calls program that provides specialized outreach services to non-English-speaking ethnic groups. She also helped found the award-winning EthnoMed.org, a website containing medical and cultural information on refugee groups in the Seattle area.

Since retiring, she has done volunteer patient care and teaching in Liberia with the Academic Collaborative to Support Medical Education in Liberia coordinated by the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine. Her goal has been to help Liberian physicians establish their first residency training programs to prevent further loss of Liberian-trained physicians to specialty training programs in developed countries. In 2013, the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons was established and started residency training in pediatrics, internal medicine, surgery and obstetrics and gynecology. The recent Ebola virus epidemic caused hospitals and training programs to close for nearly a year with significant loss of life of health care workers, including several core faculty and trainees as well as medical students. This spring she made two month-long trips to Liberia to help restart the residency training programs and has been working to recruit subspecialists from U.S. and African academic medical centers to strengthen and improve the quality of the training program.

Dr. Graham and her second husband, Steven Gary, live in Seattle and have three children and five grandchildren.