Jessica Heal was considered the "dean" of supervising nurses in Rochester before her retirement in 1935. She was born in Somerset, England on May 18, 1868. In 1888 Miss Heal came to America. She received her nurses training at the Rochester Homeopathic Hospital, the forerunner of The Genesee Hospital. Upon graduation in 1896, Miss Heal worked as a private duty nurse for several years.
In 1900, Miss Heal went to work at Lee's Private Hospital on Lake Avenue as the Hospital Superintendent. She was also the chief surgical assistant to Dr. John M. Lee and remained until 1905. In 1906, Miss Heal returned to the Rochester Homeopathic Hospital as the hospital's Superintendent of nurses following Eva Allerton's death and Maude L. Johnston's promotion to Superintendent of the hospital.
Miss Heal was one of the area's first Red Cross nurses. She was called upon to organize the nursing staff of the third Red Cross Hospital, Base Hospital 19, in 1915. The unit contained 25 nurses from Genesee and 25 from Rochester General Hospital. They were activated in February 1918 going on station at Vichy France where they served from July 1918 to February 1919.
Miss Heal retired on Nov. 1, 1935. Upon her retirement, The Genesee superintendent Dr. Leslie Wright praised her work and expressed his sentiment that her retirement was a great loss for the hospital and the community. The Genesee Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association created the Jessica Heal Sick Fund in her honor to offset graduates’ hospital room expenses during illnesses. The Fund was viable over four decades and was discontinued in the late 1980s. Miss Heal died on February 20, 1961 at the age 93.
Philip G. Maples