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Charleston's Foremost Black Nurse Ida Spruill Succumbs To Cancer
Published:
3/23/2016 4:13:14 PM


Dr. Ida Latisha Johnson Spruill
 
By Barney Blakeney


Dr. Ida Latisha Johnson Spruill, one of the most accomplished nurses and one who was totally dedicated to her profession and the Black community, died March 16 after a two-year battle with cancer.

In 2014 Dr. Ida Johnson Spruill, Ph.D., R.N. was named a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers by President Barack Obama. She was one of 102 recipients named, was the only South Carolinian to receive the award and was one of only two nurses receiving it.

Spruill received the award for her work in health literacy.

She was the youngest of 15 children born to the late Rev. Samuel D. Johnson and Addie Burnell Johnson in the Goodland community of Effingham near Florence. She was a graduate of Whittemore High School in Conway, earned a B.A. Degree from North Carolina Central University, a M.S.W. Degree from Atlanta University, a B.S.N. Degree from Tennessee State University, a M.S.N. Degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. Degree from Hampton University.

Spruill began her career as a nurse in 1984 in Florence and became a staff nurse at MUSC in 1986. She also worked at the Charleston County health Department and Franklin C. Fetter Community Health Center.

Spruill especially was dedicated to the health and well-being of Black people. She committed herself to enhancing her abilities to serve the healthcare needs of the Black community. In 1995 Spruill became Nurse Manager for Project SuGAR. In 2000 she became Co-Investigator/Project Director of the Racial Ethnic Approach to Community Health (REACH).

Spruill said she wanted to help diabetes sufferers better understand the disease and how they could manage it. That desire led her into research. Since 2010 she has served as principal investigator for two research projects that hopefully provide answers to how culture impacts the disease and its victims.

Dr. Debbie Bryant, RN said Spruill was a dear friend who loved the color purple. Spruill was known as a visionary and activist who fought for the social justice and medical equality that was so much a part of her DNA, her young son once asked if he ever would wear a t-shirt that was not emblazoned with some cause. Spruill brought us all along in her fight often repeating her signature phrases, “Chile please” when amazed or “I know that’s right” in confirmation. Spruill was known as one who carried the torch, but to Bryant Spruill was her ‘sister girl’.

She was described by Charleston physician Dr. Thaddeus Bell as a fine person and colleague. Upon receiving the Presidential Award For Research In Diabetes, Spruill said, “I am just so honored to be recognized by the president. It’s good that somebody recognizes that what we’re doing is important.”

Spruill is survived by a son, Jabari Spruill (Denise); a grandson, Jabari Spruill Jr.; siblings, Ethel Cochran, Mona Harris, Cartez Johnson, Carver Johnson, Hazel Johnson, Jacquelyn Johnson, Stewart Johnson and Wilma Johnson in addition to several nieces, nephews.
 

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Toby Smith Submitted: 3/24/2016
I didn't know Dr. Spruill personally but I knew of her, her work and her relentless pursuit of good health for all. She gave all she had. God bless her and let those who remain live well, in her honor!


 
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