Dr. Rowine Brown Truitt, Class of 1961
First female administrator of Cook County Hospital
Dr. Rowine Brown Truitt was the first female medical director of Cook County Hospital and an activist who brought attention to child abuse long before it became a public issue. She began her career as a doctor at a time when women were not welcome in the field. After earning a medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1938, she served her residency in pediatrics at Children’s Memorial Hospital, later becoming attending physician and acting director of the pediatrics department at Cook County Hospital. In 1950, she was appointed administrator of the County Children’s Hospital (now Cook County Hospital) and in 1973 became the first female medical director of the hospital.
When Truitt discovered that her medical work overlapped many legal issues, she enrolled at Chicago-Kent and earned her law degree in 1961 after eight years of classes at night. She later returned to Chicago-Kent as an adjunct professor, teaching a seminar in medical law until well after she retired from her clinical practice. She also became one of the nation’s leading child advocates and began to lecture at every hospital in Chicago on children’s rights to medical care and issues of rape, domestic violence, child abuse, incest, lead poisoning and public health issues affecting children. Truitt was named to a state commission on child abuse and helped draft the first statues dealing with the issue in Illinois history. She also served on the Governor’s Commission on Sickle Cell Anemia for the State of Illinois and the Juvenile Protective Agency, as well as on a state task force on the rights of children during medical procedures, including children’s rights to informed consent.
In 1979, Truitt received the Illinois Institute of Technology Alumni Medal, recognizing a graduate who has performed exceptional service to society by giving unselfishly to civic and cultural activities, and in 1987, she received the Mary Thompson M.D. Award, presented each year to an outstanding Chicago-area female physician who exemplifies a spirit of innovation and service.
Truitt was the first Vice President of the Chicago-Kent Alumni Association, served on its Board of Directors and was the President from 1979 to 1981. She passed away in 1999 at the age of 86.