The first nurse to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp and have a U.S. hospital named after her, Clara Maass is recognized as a heroic figure in American medicine and humanity. At Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, N.J., a small museum exists as a living monument to the nurse born in 1876 in East Orange, N.J.
In the museum, there are personal items, photos and documents, such as Maass nursing degree from the Newark German Hospital. The nursing caps that we wore as students and as graduates are displayed, said Sharon McEvoy, RN, BSN, MAS, director for med/surg services and director of patient care finances, who attended the Clara Maass School of Nursing and has worked at the hospital since her graduation in 1982.
In 1900, Maass volunteered for work in Cuba in a campaign to control yellow fever and was appointed to work with patients with the disease at Las Animas Hospital in Havana. When Maass volunteered for an inoculation experiment, she was the only American woman out of 19 participants exposed on several occasions to mosquitoes believed to be infected with yellow fever. After contracting the disease, Maass died from it Aug. 24, 1901, at the age of 25.Clara Maass, the first nurse to have a U.S. hospital named after her, is recognized as a heroic figure in the history of American medicine and humanity.
“Over the years, we have celebrated Clara Maass life, and she is remembered not only for the sacrifices that she made, but also for being a nurse leader in best practices, especially in infectious disease practices, said Debbie Sheridan, RN, BA, MAS, nurse manager on Surgical I, a 1977 nursing graduate and 35-year employee.
At 15, Maass worked at the Newark Orphan Asylum. Two years later, she entered the Newark German Hospital Training School, the fourth nursing school in New Jersey. At 21, Maass was named head nurse at Newark German Hospital, which later was renamed in her honor before moving its location from Newark to Belleville in 1957.
Maass also served as a contract nurse with the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War and volunteered for service in the Philippines.