Lena Lowe Jordan, a Black registered nurse and hospital administrator, positively impacted the Arkansas health care system. She managed two hospitals and a program for aspiring practical nurses. Her status as a health care hero comes from her lifetime commitment to serving the Black community of Arkansas to the best of her ability.
Lena Lowe Jordan was born in Georgia in 1884. At a young age, she became passionate about health care and obtained her nursing certificate in Savannah before relocating to Arkansas in the 1920s. She later got married to Peach Jordan and became head nurse of the Mosaic Templars of America, an international fraternal organization for Blacks, of which her husband the leader.
Lena Lowe Jordan was passionate about serving the Black community in Arkansas. She opened a program for young aspiring Black women to become nurses, helping them achieve the same dream she had when she was young.
According to Encyclopedia Arkansas, in the 1930s, she became affiliated with the Arkansas Home Hospital for Crippled Negro Children in Little Rock. In 1936, she placed an article in the local paper pleading for funds toward a mortgage to save the institution, as it was the only charity hospital for Black children in the state who are disabled. Jordan’s ad went unanswered, but that didn’t stop her. She mortgaged her own home to obtain funds to operate the hospital. Starting from the sacrifice she made, the Hospital remained in business until 1953.
The Arkansas Home Hospital later became the Lena Jordan Hospital, a twenty-bed hospital equipped for general surgery, medical, and obstetric care. It was open to all Black patients, regardless of whether they could afford services. Jordan’s philosophy was “The Lord provides.” Black and white physicians volunteered, without pay, at the hospital to care for the patients.
Lena Jordan founded the Lena Jordan Hospital, where Black and white physicians volunteered to provide general surgery, medical, and obstetric care to Arkansas children with disabilities.
Jordan also believed in helping others pursue their dreams of being in the medical field, like her. She started a program to provide practical experience to young women in the hospital setting, allowing them to obtain a practical nurse’s certificate. The women enrolled in this program received room, board, clothes, and a small salary. Later, Jordan collaborated with Red Cross to provide a Home Nursing class in 1934. She was the instructor, and, thanks to her guidance, 91 Black women earned certificates.
On May 12, 1950, the Lena Jordan Hospital had a special celebration commemorating Jordan’s 40th year of her nursing career. The event also marked the 21st anniversary of the institution. Jordan later died this same year from a cerebral hemorrhage, but in her 30 year career in Little Rock, she provided quality care for the underserved Black community.
All images courtesy of Encyclopedia Arkansas
Inspiration and historical information from this blog came from former CEO Ray Hanley.