Trailblazers in Medicine: Meet the Married Couple Who Became Cook Children’s First Black Physicians
In honor of Black History Month, We Look Back on the Legacy of Drs. Morrell and Electra Greer
Close your eyes and use your imagination for a moment.
You’re in medical school and walk into your anatomy class. You lay eyes on the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen. You ask them on a date. One date turns into two, and two turns into forever.
You may now open your eyes and snap back into reality.
This is the love story of Drs. Morrell and Electra Greer, the first Black physicians at Cook Children’s Fort Worth Hospital, now known as Cook Children’s Medical Center.
The Greers met at Howard University College of Medicine in 1968 and both had dreams of becoming doctors and helping children. Six months before graduating from medical school, they married, not knowing the life they’d have ahead of them.
After graduation, the couple began their residency programs at Children’s National Health System, formerly known as DC Children’s Hospital.
Having been in ROTC during his undergraduate years at Howard University, Morrell and Electra relocated to Fort Hood, Texas, in 1975. Electra worked as a civilian pediatrician in Fort Hood and three years later the couple relocated to Fort Worth and began their journey at Cook Children’s.
“I worked in the emergency room and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU),” Morrell said. “The PICU was one room and all we did was aminophylline drips and insulin fusions.”
Morrell and Electra were both general pediatricians. They never had a sub-specialty, but Morrell enjoyed working in emergency services, while Electra liked to work with hematology and oncology patients. When the Greers started practicing, there were only a select few sub-specialties, pediatric surgery, and cardiology at Cook Children’s.
In the late 70s, Cook Children’s physicians had their own private practice. While Morrell excelled in the emergency department, Electra saw patients in their office.
“I loved having a practice because we got to know and spend time with patients and their families,” Electra said.
The couple was on staff at Cook Children’s for nearly 30 years. Morrell became vice chair of pediatrics in the mid-90s at John Peter Smith Hospital (JPS). They were also on staff at Harris Hospital, now known as Texas Health Resources and All Saints Hospital, now known as Baylor Scott and White, before they both retired. In retirement, they’ve had time to reflect on their lives as minority physicians and how their work paved the way for those who came behind them.
In the 60s, Morrell and Electra were privileged to have minority leaders to look up to in their hometowns.
“I wasn’t always interested in becoming a doctor,” Electra recalled. “I always liked science and said I was going to be a nurse. Someone challenged me to go further and become a physician, so that’s what I did.”
The Greers also remember the Fort Worth physicians who came before them and created a path for the couple to become part of Cook Children’s history.
“They laid the groundwork for us,” Electra said.
Morell and Electra became pediatricians during a time when there were still remnants of segregation. However, they say they didn’t face any issues being the Black physicians at Cook Children’s.
“The medical staff was very welcoming. We loved the fact that it was a family environment and you knew everyone,” Morrell said.
The couple said being in practice together has been the best part of this journey.
“We’ve never been apart since medical school,” Morrell said. “It’s been an enjoyable time.”
One thing the couple takes pride in is being able to mentor those who’ve followed in their footsteps.
“There have been physicians who have come to us to talk about being in practice,” Morrell remembered. “We are trailblazers, but it took years to realize the impact we’ve made.”
The couple has two sons and four grandchildren they’ve gotten to spoil in retirement. They are avid world travelers, continuing to embrace the joys of life… together.