The Power of One
Sister Anne Brooks and the Tutwiler Clinic
The inspiring story of a doctor who empowered a community by providing health care in the Mississippi Delta
For thirty-four years Sister Anne Brooks, a Catholic nun and doctor of osteopathy, served one of the nation’s most impoverished towns and regions, Tutwiler, in Tallahatchie County in the Mississippi Delta. In 1983, she reopened the Tutwiler Clinic, which had remained closed for five years, as no other physician was willing to serve in Tallahatchie County. Starting with only two other nuns and regularly working twelve-hour days, Brooks’s patient load—in a region where seven out of ten patients that walked in her door had no way to pay for care—grew from thirty to forty individuals per month her first year to more than 8,500 annually.
Sally Palmer Thomason tells the powerful story of Sister Anne Brooks, beginning with her tumultuous childhood, the contracting and overcoming of crippling arthritis in early adulthood, and her near-unprecedented decision to attend medical school at the age of forty. Dr. Brooks’s remarkable dedication and accomplishments in caring for the health and well-being of both the individuals and the community of Tutwiler attracted ongoing attention and was often featured in national publications and media, including People magazine and 60 Minutes.
Thomason not only shares Brooks’s powerful story but reveals, through excerpts from journal entries, letters, and interviews, the intimate musings that connect Brooks’s faith in God to her profound compassion for others. Whether it is Brooks’s efforts to desegregate Tutwiler or provide free healthcare, her constant devotion to others is striking.