Section: Clara Maass Medical Center News

Historic New Jersey Nurse Clara Louise Maass Nominated for Induction into the 2017 New Jersey Hall of Fame

11/10/2017

Nominations Now Open for Public Voting through November 26th

Belleville, NJ – The New Jersey Hall of Fame has listed nurse Clara Maass on the ballot as a worthy New Jerseyan to be inducted into the NJ Hall of Fame Academy. Public voting is now open through November 26th to visit the NJ Hall of Fame website to vote in support of Clara Maass’ selection into the NJ Hall of Fame. Public voting is open now through November 26: www.rwjbh.org/voteclara

"Clara Maass’ love for nursing and caring for people continues to have a positive impact on all New Jerseyans today” said Mary Ellen Clyne, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Clara Maass Medical Center. “As a nurse myself and chief executive for a facility that bears her name, I am deeply proud of the Clara Maass legacy that ranks her among history’s nursing titans including Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton.”

Clara Louise Maass
Clara Louise Maass

Clara Louise Maass (June 28, 1876 – August 24, 1901) was an American Nurse who died as a result of her voluntary participation in medical experiments related to the study of Yellow Fever.

Born in East Orange, New Jersey, Clara was one of the first graduates of the Newark German Hospital’s Christina Trefz Training School for Nurses at age 19. By 1898, she was promoted to the role of Head Nurse at Newark German Hospital.

In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Clara volunteered as a Nurse with the United States Army where she worked at Army camps in Florida, Georgia and Cuba. In 1900, she re-enlisted and continued her service in the Philippines and Cuba. Throughout her time with the Army, she cared for large numbers of soldiers afflicted with diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, smallpox, and typhoid. Yellow Fever, an acute infectious disease found to be transmitted primarily by animals including mosquitoes was also among the list of common illnesses affecting soldiers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more Soldiers were dying from Yellow Fever infections than in battle, which prompted further research and the formation of the Reed Yellow Fever Commission led by Walter Reed, an American Army Surgeon.

In 1901, Mass was stationed at Las Animas Hospital in Havana, Cuba, taking care of Soldiers who contracted Yellow Fever infections. Maass volunteered to participate in an experiment on Yellow Fever that was conducted by Reed Commission. To that end, Mass bravely allowed herself to be bitten by an infected mosquito. She contracted and recovered from a mild form of the disease in March 1901. Then, in August, 1901, she allowed herself to be bitten by an infected mosquito for a second time only to become ill with severe fever and she died ten days later. Because of Maass’ death, no further experiments were conducted.

Maass was buried in Havana with military honors; her body was moved in 1902 to Fairmount Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.

To mark Maass’ legacy to New Jersey, the profession of Nursing, research, the study of medicine, and as a Veteran, in 1952, the Newark German Hospital (which had since moved to Belleville, NJ) was renamed the Clara Maass Memorial Hospital. On the 50th anniversary of her death, a Cuban postage stamp was issued in her honor and in 1976, the 100th anniversary of her birth, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in her honor. Her life history was highlighted in 2017 as part of NJTV’s Drive By History program. Clara Maass is the first hospital to be named after a nurse.

Clara Maass Memorial Hospital is now known as Clara Maass Medical Center, a facility of the RWJBarnabas Health System.

Contact: Stacie Newton
Office: (973) 450-2989
Mobile: (201) 424-9678
E-mail: Stacie.Newton@rwjbh.org

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