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MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Melissa A. Warfield, M.D.

Picture of Melissa A. Warfield
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Melissa A. Warfield, M.D.

“There is no better example of a physician, male or female, who always fought the good fight, not for the sake of personal gain, but for the sake of sick and dying children.”

NOMINATING CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Former Rep. Ed Schrock

“A BUILDER OF CHILDREN, CHILDREN'S HOSPITALS AND PHYSICIANS...”

BIOGRAPHY

In the early years at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, Melissa Warfield, at that time the first and only full-time physician at the fledgling hospital, would often return her weekly paycheck to the hospital administrator with a few words to the effect that the housekeeping staff at the hospital needed the money that week more than she did.

This story is emblematic of Warfield, whose dedication to medicine and devotion to children created a deep and powerful legacy, one that also includes her many contributions to helping establish Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in 1973.

"Melissa Warfield was instrumental in making sure that a founding principle of the medical school was humanism in medicine, which continues to distinguish Eastern Virginia Medical School today," wrote Evan R. Farmer, M.D., former Dean and Provost at EVMS. She also pushed for bioethics as a fundamental feature of the curriculum, long before it was required at other medical schools.

Founding the CHKD pediatric residency program in 1960, Warfield integrated it with EVMS in the 1970s, then went on to initiate and promote other programs to help children, including the Lead Poisoning Screening Program (with the Norfolk Health Department) and CHKD's own child protection services.

Beginning her medical career with a residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, which she completed in 1958, she followed with a Fellowship in Pediatric Hematology at Children's Hospital of Michigan, finished in 1960.

At EVMS she helped to train and mentor many of the current faculty, including Jean Shelton, M.D., Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Says Shelton of Warfield, "She was a remarkable woman and a really good, compassionate doctor. If a family couldn't afford the medicine for their child, she'd pay for it out of her own pocket!"

Prior to the founding of EVMS, Warfield was on the faculty of the University of Virginia Medical School, in Charlottesville, and regularly made the six-hour round trip from Norfolk--in her spare time!-to train residents and interns in pediatric hematology and oncology.

Deservedly so, she is included in Who's Who in American Women (1970), received teaching awards from CHKD (1974) and EVMS (1977), and in 1983 was chosen Tidewater Professional Woman of the Year. In 2001, EVMS awarded her an Honorary Doctorate for Exceptional Service.

Warfield's admirable dedication to her community and children included serving on the Board of Directors of Ronald McDonald House, and being a consultant to the Tidewater Center for Sickle Cell Anemia.

Recalling her fondly, former Dean Farmer wrote, "She is a builder of children's hospitals, a builder of medical schools, a builder of communities, a builder of physicians, and a builder of children. She did all these things despite the sexism of the day, making her then, as she is now, an exceptional role model for women and an exceptional role model for leadership in medicine."

Melissa Warfield died on September 29, 2006 at the age of 76.

MILESTONES

1960-1979

Founds and becomes first Director, Pediatric Residency Program, Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, Norfolk

1972-1988

Directs Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Eastern Virginia Medical School, Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters

1972-1995

Professor of Pediatrics, Eastern Virginia Medical School

1988-1995

Co-Directs Human Values in Medicine program, Eastern Virginia Medical School

1995

Becomes Professor Emeritus, Eastern Virginia Medical School

BORN

1930 - 2006

MEDICAL SCHOOL

Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

SPECIALTY

Pediatrics


Sub Specialty

Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

LOCATION

Virginia