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March 22, 1922: Physician Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Born

Mildred Mitchell-Bateman
WV Humanities Council

Physician Mildred Mitchell-Bateman was born in Georgia on March 22, 1922. Her career in West Virginia began in 1947, when she became a staff physician at Lakin State Hospital in Mason County. Lakin was the state hospital for African-American mental patients.

Mitchell-Bateman left Lakin to establish her own practice but returned in 1955 and became the hospital’s superintendent three years later.

In 1960, she was promoted to supervisor of professional services for the state Department of Mental Health. Two years later, Governor Wally Barron appointed Mitchell-Bateman director of the department, making her the first black woman in West Virginia to hold a high-level state administrative position. She served in that post for 15 years.

In 1973, she became vice president of the American Psychiatric Association and served on the Presidential Commission on Mental Health, which developed the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. After leaving public service, she chaired the Marshall University Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry and was later clinical director of Huntington State Hospital, which was renamed in her honor in 1999.

Mildred Mitchell-Bateman died in Charleston in 2012 at age 89.

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