Ed. Note: For Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating women who have played significant roles in the health center movement. Also view our profiles of Janie Geer, Dr. Marilyn Gaston and Carmela Castellano-Garcia.
Jessie Collins Trice, BSN, MPH, was a former Chairperson of NACHC’s Board of Directors and a trailblazer in the Community Health Center Movement. Born and raised in rural Georgia, Ms. Collins truly understood the health care issues facing Southern communities. Her passion led her to study nursing at Grady Medical hospital in Atlanta followed by a move to Florida where she became the first Black person to graduate from the University of Miami.
Trice was a self-starter and, in 1967, when noticing the need for health care in the Brownsville neighborhood of Miami, she began providing primary care services out of a trailer. From that humble beginning she founded the Economic Opportunity Family Health Center, Miami’s first federally qualified health center. One of Trice’s primary motivations was to build a brighter future for youth and mothers. This would guide her vision to establishing reliable care for the medically underserved in predominantly Black and Latinx communities of Miami.
“Our children are our future, and if we don’t expend every effort to help our children, we won’t have a future.”– Jessie Collins Trice BSN, MPH
Trice’s expertise along with her adoration for children led her to opening daycare centers and residential facilities for young pregnant mothers suffering from substance abuse. This incredible career also included her leadership in founding the Trice Center for Learning and Health, the Miami-Dade Black Nurses Association, and serving as the chairperson of the Florida Board of Nurses. She continued shaping the health justice movement as president of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers and Chairperson of NACHC’s Board of Directors in1993.
Jessie Collins Trice passed away in October of 1999, yet her life’s work continues. The Economic Opportunity Family Health Center, now known as Jessie Trice Community Health System, continues to further her legacy with 16 facilities, including a woman’s residential substance abuse treatment program.