Tabitha Grier, UVA Hospital Superintendent from 1913-16
Grier served as UVA Hospital's nursing superintendent between 1913 and 1916. A fund established by her brother to honor her has offered support for medical bills for more than 80 years.

Thanks to the pandemic, the Tabitha S. Grier Medical Assistance Fund has a valuable new update.

Originally established in the 1940s by Dr. J.B. Grier in memory of his sister, Tabitha Grier, the fund was originally created to cover hospital expenses for nursing graduates who sometimes contracted illnesses from patients in their care. Fast-forward more than 80 years, and the fund will now support nursing alumni struggling to pay COVID-related medical costs.

After graduating from UVA, Tabitha Grier first served as UVA Hospital’s operating nurse supervisor before becoming its nursing superintendent between 1913 to 1916. In 1914, a measles outbreak caused an acute shortage of hospital beds, subsequently forcing both nursing students and graduate nurses from their hospital attic dormitories into temporary tents on the East Range and, finally, to rooms in Varsity Hall. Years later, acknowledging the dangers nurses faced in their work, Dr. Grier established the fund.

“I hope and pray it will be helpful and the means of bringing a few feeble rays of sunshine and hope to some nurses in a time of physical distress,” wrote Dr. Grier on March 1, 1944, in a letter establishing the fund.

By the 1980s, the fund had evolved to provide financial support for income-eligible nursing alumni facing medical expenses not covered by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. It wasn’t until 2020, though, with the pandemic as their backdrop, that the Alumni Council again reimagined the fund’s purpose, this time to increase alumni’s accessibility to and financial support for care.

“COVID imposed new financial stressors on many of us,” explained Sandy Reed-Bryant (BSN ’78, MSN ’86), Alumni Council president. “With this overhaul, we’re hoping to improve healthcare access among our alumni, augment the amount and kind of financial support they can receive, and to receive more applications than we have in the past. We’re certain that this new use is very much in keeping with what Dr. Grier and the fund’s subsequent donors envisioned, as it will benefit nursing alumni with medical needs into perpetuity.”

Grier funds—distributed by the School’s Alumni Association—may be used toward hospital and provider co-payments, for medications, for in-home or nursing home expenses, medical supplies and/or equipment, or other out-of-pocket healthcare costs not covered by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

Applications are accepted year-round.  Details and an application are online (click on “Scholarships and Resources for UVA Nursing Alumni”); contact Jessica Eustace with questions: (434) 924-0138. 

From the fall 2021 issue of Virginia Nursing Legacy.