Annabelle Ravenscroft Gibson Jenkins

(July 13, 1827–December 13, 1901)

The daughter of a Richmond merchant, Annabella Ravenscroft Gibson Jenkins (July 13, 1827–December 13, 1901) nursed sick and wounded Confederate soldiers during the Civil War as a self-trained nurse. She managed two hospitals and opened her home as a private hospital for officers and enlisted men. She also traveled to Warm Springs, where she nursed soldiers suffering from typhoid fever.

Jenkins continued her charitable work after the war, with a focus on the health care needs of Richmond's poorest residents. At the request of a physician, she convinced the Medical College of Virginia to provide a building for a hospital, which she opened as Retreat for the Sick (later Retreat Hospital) in March 1877. Physicians from the college staffed the hospital, which provided care to all regardless of race, religion, or ability to pay. A few years later Jenkins and the all-female board of managers relocated the hospital to a larger facility that could accommodate more than fifty patients. Retreat cared for thousands of patients, approximately a third of whom did not pay for their treatment. Jenkins served as the board's president until her death, raising funds for building improvements, patient care, and the establishment of a training school for nurses.

Annabella Jenkins's legacy of providing compassionate care continued through the creation in 1995 of the Jenkins Foundation, which seeks to apply her vision to current challenges by focusing on equitable access to health care, programs that reduce risky behaviors, and promoting safe and healthy environments.