Prevention (USA)

A Lifetime of Helping


Melissa Freeman, M.D., is a 96-year-old doctor still practicing in Harlem. Interviewe­r Allana Haynes talked to her about what she’s learned throughout her incredible medical career.

Here, a fascinatin­g snippet:

How does the granddaugh­ter of a formerly enslaved man become interested in medicine?

I was really interested in biology and had taken several classes that led me to thinking about going into medicine. I eventually went into the field of internal medicine.

What are some early career memories?

During my internship at Kings County Hospital, I went to the pediatric ward, and a little fellow, about 5 years old, said, “What’s your name?” I told him I was Dr. Freeman. He said, “You’re a doctor? I never heard of a lady doctor.” I also worked in a Manhattan hospital where two of the doctors were looking for physicians interested in working with patients who were addicted to narcotics. I had had exposure

to a hospital social worker who once walked someone into my office who was addicted to narcotics, asking if there was anything we could do. At that time, our only option was to admit them to the inpatient division— but it was just to get them off drugs; then they let them go. I started working in the field of drug addiction, managing the use of medication to treat people, particular­ly young women.

What motivated you to keep going through such a long career, and do you ever think about retiring?

It’s very challengin­g helping people—people of color, Black people— defeat [conditions] that have taken us away from life—hypertensi­on, diabetes,

kidney disease, joint pain. This was something that I wanted to do and have continued to do. I’m not of a young age, but I still have energy, and

I’m still able to open the doors of my practice, so I have no plans of retiring. If people want me to help them, I am more than willing to try.

 ?? ?? Freeman graduated from Howard University College of Medicine in 1955.
Freeman graduated from Howard University College of Medicine in 1955.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States