Friends from the Yale School of Medicine class of 1977 were visiting their old medical school during the Yale University campus 50womenatYale150 celebration in October 2019. Gail Sullivan, MD, MPH; Diana Wasserman, MD; Polly Thomas, MD; and Marybeth Ezaki, MD; decided to explore Sterling Hall of Medicine (SHM), the central building of the medical school. But as one member of the group, Wasserman, was looking for a basement hallway they were using as a shortcut to Yale New Haven Hospital, they came across signs pointing to the school’s “mother’s room.” of medicine – a dark, sterile room in the basement with a urinal. “It was hideous,” Ezaki said.
The group composed an email to Nancy J. Brown, MD, now Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of the Yale School of Medicine and CNH Long Professor of Internal Medicine. At the time, Brown was preparing to take on her role as Dean. “We wrote him an email saying, ‘We have a problem, but we have a solution,'” Ezaki explains.
Members of the Class of 1977 came together to raise funds for a brand new Mother’s Room at SHM. The group celebrated the opening of the hall on June 4 during Medical School Graduate Weekend. “Relegating women to a nursing room in the remote bowels of the basement was unacceptable,” Wasserman says. “We wanted to make sure, as a class, that we were doing something to recognize the importance of women’s contribution to medicine.”
The birth of the Mother’s Room began with an old office with orange shag carpeting. A construction team led by Paul D’Amico transformed the space with new floors, windows for natural light, paint jobs and ceiling tiles. The much-improved suite includes a kitchenette and three private bedrooms, which the team plans to furnish with recliners and ottomans.
“Allowing faculty, students and staff who are mothers to use the lactation room and breastfeed their children improves their lives and those of their families,” said Dean Brown.
“We have more and more young female medical students, residents and assistants who have families during all phases of their training,” says Lisa Lattanza, MD, professor and chair of orthopedics and rehabilitation. “It is important to show that we accept women in medicine and that we welcome and support them on their journey.