Nursing Alumna Honored for Work with Underserved Children

By Robin Hindery

UCSF School of Nursing alumna Ellen L. Wolfe, DrPH, was honored at San Francisco’s Arbor Day celebration on March 11 for her years of dedicated service to the city’s underserved children and their families.

Kathleen Dracup, RN, DNSc, dean of the UCSF School of Nursing, with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at a March 11 Arbor Day event, where a ceremonial tree was planted in honor of UCSF nursing alumna Ellen L. Wolfe.

Each year on Arbor Day, local officials plant a ceremonial tree as a tribute to an individual who has left a mark on the city, and Wolfe, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 55, was this year’s selection. “We like to recognize and honor some of our city heroes with something that represents their legacy — something alive and growing,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who attended the tree-planting event. At the time of her death, Wolfe was serving as director of children’s medical services for the city and county of San Francisco, where she worked tirelessly to improve the quality of children’s health care services and ensure access for all. Earlier in her career, she had served as director of the Early Parenting Project, a child abuse prevention program at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), and later as associate director for health care services at the hospital’s Child Protection Center, which she helped create. Wolfe also held an assistant clinical professorship in the Department of Family Health Care Nursing at the UCSF School of Nursing. “Ellen was a celebrated figure at UCSF and SFGH,” said School of Nursing Dean Kathleen Dracup, RN, DNSc. Dracup said the choice of location for the Wolfe memorial tree — along a congested, inhospitable thoroughfare at the intersection of South Van Ness Avenue and Howard Street — was fitting, given Wolfe’s firm belief that with love and attention, children can thrive even in the most difficult circumstances. “She took care of all of us, so now we can take care of this tree as a way of remembering her,” said Mitch Katz, MD, San Francisco’s public health director, who described Wolfe as the city’s “longtime advocate for children and for being the best we can possibly be.” The Arbor Day ceremony came on the heels of another event honoring Wolfe: the March 5 dedication of the Ellen Wolfe Children’s Center at the SFGH Department of Pediatrics. The center will promote coordination of the hospital’s pediatric services for children exposed to trauma through abuse, neglect and other social stresses, and also will provide intake and shelter for children awaiting foster care placement. In addition, the School of Nursing has received a $100,000 bequest from Wolfe’s family to create the Dr. Ellen L. Wolfe Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund will support scholarships for nursing students who show exceptional academic promise and demonstrate dedication to serving the needs and improving the lives of children in San Francisco, Dracup said. Wolfe attended nursing school at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, and received her masters of science degree in nursing from UCSF in 1983. She later received master of public health and doctor of public health degrees from UC Berkeley. To donate to or find out more about the Dr. Ellen L. Wolfe Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund, contact Danielle Gordon in the University Development Office.

Photo/Earl McCowan Photography

Related Links:

UCSF School of Nursing

San Francisco Arbor Day