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Black History Month

Introduction to Black History Month

February is Black History Month and Sparrow is celebrating the achievements of pioneering African Americans in healthcare. Patients at Sparrow and around the world continue to benefit from their efforts to shape the medical field, and this month, we recognize the contributions of these individuals and generations of trailblazers that have helped to advance healthcare and society.

Dr. Alexa Irene Canady
The first Black woman to become a neurosurgeon
Dr. Alexa Irene Canady

Lansing native Dr. Alexa Canady, became the first female African American neurosurgeon in the U.S. in 1981. Canady served as chief of neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan for 14 years. She also served as a Professor of Neurosurgery at Wayne State University, where her research led to the development of an anti-siphon shunt that helps treat hydrocephalus. Canady’s pioneering work and dedication to the medical field earned her an induction into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1989 and the American Medical Women’s Association President’s Award in 1993. 

» Visit Dr. Canady's Wikipedia Page
Dr. William Augustus Hinton
The first Black professor in the history of Harvard University
Dr. William Augustus Hinton

Dr. William Augustus Hinton (1883-1959) is a prominent figure in the medical field for becoming the first African American Physician to publish a textbook and the first African American professor at Harvard University. He is also internationally known for developing a method for detecting syphilis called the “Hinton Test.”

» Visit Dr. Hinton's Wikipedia Page
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler
The first African American woman physician in America
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895) shattered boundaries by becoming the first Black woman in the U.S. to become a physician. Crumpler specialized in treating women and children, provided medical care to freed slaves, and wrote a book in 1883, making her the only published female physician author in the 19th century. 

» Visit Dr. Crumpler's Wikipedia Page
Dr. Charles Richard Drew
Known as "the father of blood banking"
Dr. Charles Richard Drew

Sparrow Health System and hospitals around the world continue to experience the legacies that live on through the medical leadership of individuals like Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950), who is known as the “father of blood banking” because of his pioneering blood preservation and transfusion techniques. He led the first American Red Cross Blood Bank and advocated for the fair and equal treatment of blood storage from white and black donors. Drew also worked hard to support young African Americans pursuing careers in the medical field. 

» Visit Dr. Drew's Wikipedia Page
Dr. LaKeeya Tucker
The first African American to be elected to serve a two-year term as Chief of Staff Elect for Sparrow Hospital

Dr. LaKeeya Tucker

LaKeeya Tucker, D.O., made history in 2020 as the first African American to be elected as Chief of Staff-Elect for Sparrow Hospital.  She will become Sparrow Hospital’s Chief of Staff in 2022.

Dr., Tucker, an OB/Gyn, is a partner at Alliance OB/Gyn, is active in numerous Sparrow initiatives, and is a clinical associate professor for the MSU College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is involved in many medical societies and mentors Medical Residents, interns, medical students and high school students.

Dr. Tucker is very active in community service in Mid-Michigan and has received numerous honors, including the Greater Lansing Area Club’s “Community Service Award” in 2014, Lansing City Council’s 2015  "Living Legend Award”, and the Davis Dunning’s Bar Association "Trailblazer award" in 2016. She received the Zonta Yellow Rose Award in March 2018 (in recognition of empowering women).

She has been the medical director for the “It’s a Breast Thing” program, a non-profit organization that provides funding to breast cancer survivors who can’t afford their out-of-pocket costs, and she was one of the physician leaders of a free annual cervical cancer screening program at Alliance OB/Gyn’s “Pap-O-Rama Saturday.” She is also the current First Vice President of The Lansing/ East Lansing (MI) Links, Incorporated, and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Chi Epsilon Omega Chapter.

Dr. Tucker aspires to continue making a difference in the lives of others through education about being healthy and continually giving back to those in need.

Dr. Alane Laws-Barker
Employed by Sparrow Women’s Health and serves as Lead Ob/Gyn at Ingham County Health Department Women’s Health Services

Dr. Alane M. Laws-Barker

Alane Laws-Barker, M.D., has a passion for the health of women and children. She is employed by Sparrow Women’s Health and serves as Lead OB/Gyn at the Ingham County Health Department Women’s Health Services.  Her goal is to create an environment where all people are able to receive and give the best quality healthcare, and her mission is to empower people as they engage the healthcare system. Dr. Laws-Barker believes that health is wealth, and that healthcare should reflect diversity not only in the patient population but also in those who provide care, as well.

Dr. Laws-Barker’s clinical faculty appointments include: Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and College of Nursing, University of Michigan, Grand Valley State University, and Central Michigan University.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed her to the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.   

Dr. Laws-Barker is very active in the community. Her leadership roles include Chair, Citizen’s Review Panel Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect; and Co-Chair, Business and Economic Development Committee Mayor’s Economic Restart Committee. She serves on the board of March of Dimes, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Greater Lansing Chapter Jack and Jill of America Inc. She serves as a mentor for students from elementary through medical training.

Lansing Alumnae Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity recently recognized her as a 2019 Woman of Achievement for her service to the community and her profession. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and served as the President of Chi Epsilon Omega Chapter in East Lansing. Because of her leadership and numerous acts of service Dr. Laws-Barker was recognized as Great Lakes Region President of the Year 2019.

Dr. Brandon Francis
Executive Medical Director of Physician Performance for Sparrow Health System and as an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology at Michigan State University

Dr. Brandon Francis

Brandon Francis, M.D., serves as Executive Medical Director of Physician Performance for Sparrow Health System and as an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology at Michigan State University.

He has a unique background, having trained in a combined internal medicine and psychiatry residency, followed by completing active duty with the United States Army. He served both domestically and abroad, caring for patients with acute psychiatric symptoms. His military experience increased his interest in traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Francis is involved in numerous professional organizations and among the honors he’s received are the Pine Rest Michigan State University Residency Teaching Award and the Mercy Health Physician Appreciation Award.

Dr. Albert Ross
Section Chief for Sparrow Gastroenterology and consults with the Sparrow Outpatient Endoscopy Center

Dr. Albert B. Ross

Albert B. Ross, M.D., is a founding partner of the Michigan Gastroenterology Institute and the Digestive Health Institute, is section chief for Sparrow Gastroenterology, and consults with the Sparrow Outpatient Endoscopy Center. He is a member of the Sparrow Physicians Hall of Fame.

Dr. Ross has served important governance roles at Sparrow Hospital, including as a board member of Sparrow Physicians Health Plan and helping to create Sparrow Care Network. He is currently a member of the SCN Quality Advisory Committee.

He has practiced clinical gastroenterology for 26 years and served as a teacher/mentor for numerous students, residents, and fellows.