Joan Miller Platt

1-25-25 to 1-16-98
Lady Doctor Extraordinaire

Quite impressed by the career of a neighbor, I have chosen to print this excerpt from the Sarasota Herald Tribune written by Stephanie Moorhead on January 20, 1998.

At a time when few women were working and when surgery was done exclusively by men, Dr. Joan Miller Platt graduated from medical school, entered private practice and helped develop reconstructive surgery techniques for burn victims and infants with cleft palates.

Her brother, Richard Jr. of Stratham, N.H., said that her excellent grades allowed Platt to pursue her chosen career without difficulty.

But her close friend, Betty McAuliffe, said that Platt faced horrendous obstacles in the male-dominated field and "many, many trials and tribulations." It was Platt's dedication to her patients that kept her motivated.

Born Jan. 25, 1925, in New York. Her mother, a World War I Army nurse, first pricked Platt's interest in medicine. However, she did not decide to become a doctor until she received a master's degree in psychology from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and was working for government services in West Germany at the conclusion of World War II.

She returned to the United States, took the prerequisites for medical school and enrolled the following year in Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons.

A specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery, she spent her residency at Belleview Hospital in New York, where she helped develop surgery techniques for burn victims. She also spent three years in England, helping develop a procedure for fixing infants' cleft palates. Until then, the problem could not be fixed until the child was older. Afterward, she established her own practice in Hartford, Conn.

"She was an extremely fine doctor," McAuliffe said. "Her reputation with her patients was outstanding."

Platt carefully counseled her patients before undergoing surgery and encouraged them to return to her office free of charge if they had problems after the surgery.

"They absolutely adored her," McAuliffe said. "I thought it was a little stupid to not charge anything for visits over the course of years. But she thought it was her responsibility to take care of them. She was the Dr. (Marcus) Welby of the surgical field."

Platt, who loved the sun and the sea, moved to Sarasota Florida in 1986 after she retired. The 72 year-old Doctor died on Friday January 16, 1998.

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