We continue our Healthcare Heroes through History blog post series with the 1930s.

By 1933, the Rochester Visiting Nurse Association had been providing much needed services to patients for 20 years. During this time, Mrs. Celia Young and Mrs. Violet Bliskey were very active public health nurses, going above and beyond to provide care at home as evidenced by numerous news articles published throughout the decade.

HEALTH NURSE VERY BUSY – Made 170 Calls During Past Month, for Three Days Required Assistant

a headline in the Rochester Courier in March 1933 read. A journalist, reporting on the monthly meeting, shared, “In the absence of the public health nurse, Mrs. Celia Young, who was making urgent nursing calls, her report for the month was read by the president, Mrs. Snow. ‘Mrs. Young had an exceedingly busy February, had made 170 visits, 152 of which were for bedside nursing. She had worked much overtime, for three days required the assistance of her sister, Mrs. Alicia Young, who is also a trained nurse.’”

Community Chest

Leading up to the 1930’s, the idea of a Community Chest was introduced, based on a concept shared by a gentleman from Concord. As defined in the Rochester Courier, February 4, 1927, “Community chest: What is it? A gathering together into one general fund the needs of various charitable and welfare organization to be apportioned out at stated intervals to these organization, their proportionate part based on the budget submitted when the chest was set up.” The idea was to only have one annual solicitation in Rochester to fund worthy organizations, rather than asking community members multiple times to make donations.

Three short months after the Community Chest idea was introduced, Rochester kicked off its first Community Chest Drive in May (Rochester Courier, May 27, 1927), with a goal of raising money to meet the budget needs for the Salvation Army ($3,000), YMCA ($3,900), District Nurse ($2,300), and the Red Cross ($400).

By 1934 (Rochester Courier, May 18, 1934), the Community Chest fundraising effort was really gaining momentum. The article reads, “Crashing through to a high record of achievement, the Community Chest came to a glorious finish Monday night with a total of cash and pledges of $9,010.00.” In addition to raising more money (value about $200,000 in 2023) than the previous year, the number of donors grew significantly from 416 in 1933 to 1,412 in 1934.

Community Clinics

Throughout the decade, Celia Young remained very busy, which included her work at the community clinics held at the VNA headquarters. In September of 1937, Mrs. Young and fellow VNA nurse, Violet Bliskey, assisted in the examination of twenty children and adults for Tuberculosis and Whooping Cough during one clinic, and helped inoculate 47 children against Whopping Cough at a second clinic. Lucky for Mrs. Young, she was able to take some much-needed time off for vacation, where she spent a month’s time in Maine relaxing and visiting her sister (8/28/36).

Personality Portraits

A special “Personality Portraits” section of the Rochester Courier (9/4/36), profiled Violet Bliskey, “Possessor of a fine mezzo-soprano voice and a pianist of marked ability, Mrs. Violet Bliskey of North Main Street is one of Rochesters’s busiest women. As assistant district nurse of Rochester, this month carrying on the duties that fall to the office alone, while Mrs. Celia Young, district nurse, is on vacation, Mrs. Bliskey’s day is full to overflowing.”

The article continues, “Mrs. Bliskey has been engaged in private nursing and about 15 months ago she became assistant district nurse. Although her work is hard and demands long, wearisome hours spent entirely in service, Mrs. Bliskey is tremendously fond of her work and devotes unlimited time to her occupation.”Nurse Violet Bliskey in 1936

(Header photo: Violet Bliskey getting little Luise ready to be  immunized against whooping cough in 1938)

Celia Young and Violet Bliskey were certainly healthcare heroes in their time and well-recognized by the City of Rochester for their commendable efforts to care for patients and the community.