The Delaware County Health Department is celebrating Black History Month by recognizing a Delaware County Black Public Health Pioneer every Thursday in February!

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Updated: February 23, 2023

Delaware County Black Public Health Pioneers

Each Thursday during Black History Month DCHD will detail the careers and accomplishments of selected Delaware County Black public health community members. And will showcase how their work has benefitted community health for the residents of Delaware County.

“We are honored to recognize these Public Health Pioneers. Because of these trailblazers, Delaware County is a healthier community, and we extend our gratitude and thanks for their dedication and passion towards public health.” - Delaware County Health Department Director Melissa Lyon

Selected Pioneers

Dr. June Elcock-Messam

Dr. June Elcock-Messam

As part of the Delaware County Health Department’s recognition of Black History Month, each Thursday in February, DCHD will detail the careers and accomplishments of selected Delaware County Black Public Health community members.

We are excited to present Dr. June Elcock-Messam, M.D. as our final Delaware County Black Public Health Pioneer. Congratulations Dr. Elcock-Messam!

Dr. June Elcock-Messam grew up under intense circumstances living in Guyana as a child. In a place where soldiers would tear gas schools and beat both teachers and students; June grew up knowing her dream was to be a doctor and champion for children experiencing life traumas. At 16 years old, June’s parents moved their family of 10 to the United States, giving up everything for their kids to have a better life.

June attended Haverford College, majoring in Biology, and went on to get her Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1997. While in school, June worked with the School District of Philadelphia coordinating the Children’s Health Initiative, reporting on lead and asbestos poisoning in children. She then went on to be the Special Projects Coordinator for the Philadelphia Children’s Network facilitating grants and coordinating health-related projects for at-risk children and their families. Dr. June Elcock-Messam accomplished all of this while completing her Pediatric Residency at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in affiliation with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and went on to become the Attending Pediatrician. While at Crozer, Dr. Elcock-Messam ran the Pediatric Residency Program where she built the child abuse component of Advocacy Rotation, which is now required to graduate from the residency program.

In 2003, Dr. Elcock-Messam became the President of Media Pediatrics in Wallingford, PA where she not only practices general pediatrics but specializes in child abuse pediatrics where she believes in treating the whole child, not just the physical ailments. Serving as an advocate for her patients, who are primarily victims of physical or sexual abuse, Dr. Elcock-Messam is the founder of Every Child Counts, a non-profit organization that provides “aftercare” for at-risk youth. Every Child Counts provides food, holiday gifts, school supplies, and support for kids going to college. Dr. Elcock-Messam’s mother passed away last year, and Every Child Counts now offers a scholarship in her name, providing trauma-informed care programs and resources for children who are homeless or in foster care.

Honors and accomplishments:

Guardian Award, Family Support Line for work providing care to victims of abuse (2022)
Wall of Honor Inductee, Strath Haven High School for providing care to victims of child abuse in Delaware County (2015)
Outstanding Teaching Attending of the Year Award, presented by Residents at CCMC’s Pediatric Residency Program (2002-2003)
Navigator’s Award: presented by the Family Support Line in recognition of contributions made in the prevention and treatment of sexually abused victims in Delaware County (2001)
Victim’s Rights Week Award: Community Advocate award presented by Children and Youth Services of Delaware County for work done with children who have been abused in Delaware County (2001)
Nominated for the Golden Apple/Stethoscope Award: for excellence in teaching students from MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine (2001)
Medical Society of Eastern Pennsylvania Award: for outstanding leadership qualities and active involvement in community service at Medical College of PA (1994)
Mary Ellen Hartman Award: for outstanding social consciousness and leadership involvement with peers or the community (Medical College of PA) (1993)

Mrs. Gwendolyn A. Smith, RN, MBA, MS, MSM

Mrs. Gwendolyn A. Smith, RN, MBA, MS, MSM

Raised right here in Chester City, Mrs. Gwendolyn Smith, who had always imagined herself becoming a teacher, got a job at ChesPenn Hospital in 10th grade. It was here that she saw the injustice of how the underserved and underinsured were treated and she knew healthcare was her calling.

After attending the University of Delaware’s nursing program Mrs. Gwen realized that health education and prevention were the keys to improving healthcare. As a nurse, she felt it was her responsibility to educate the community on various health issues and realized that for those who did not come to hospitals, churches were a great outlet for reaching those in need of health education. With more experience and as Mrs. Gwen worked her way up through the Crozer Hospital system she also found herself educating and mentoring other nurses on providing patients with the knowledge needed to improve their own health.

Mrs. Gwen became the President of Crozer Keystone Health Systems (CKHS) Springfield Hospital in 1997, Vice President of CKHS Community Health in 1999, and Administrative Director of Patient Experience of Care in 2019. Through these roles, she was able to improve community relations and pinpoint the health and social needs of county residents. Even towards the end of her career, Mrs. Gwen answered the call for COVID-19 as Coordinator of the Hospital’s COVID-19 clinics across Delaware County, after which she retired in 2021.

Crozer Health has now created the Gwen A. Smith Award for Community Service created to honor Crozer Health employees who make significant contributions to the community as Mrs. Gwen did over her 41-year career and continues to do even in retirement.


Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders (PONL)
Southeastern Pennsylvania Organization of Nurses (SEPONL)
American Burn Association (ABA)
American Hospital Association Policy Board (2014-2017)


Board of Advisors, Delaware County Community Foundation (2012 – 2014)
Board of Directors, Widener University Doctoral Nursing Program (2012 – present)
Board of Directors, Secretary, Delaware County Community Foundation (2007-2013)
Board of Directors, ChesPenn Federal Qualified Health Center (2007 – present)
Board of Directors, Vice Chair, Chester Education Foundation (2006 – present)
Board of Directors, Widener University Charter School (2005 – present)
Health Advisor Board for Delaware County Council (2006 – present)
Chester Upland School District Advisory Board to Superintendent (2000 – 2014)
Drexel University School of Public Health, Dean Advisory Board (2005 – 2012)
Chester High School Health Academy Advisory Board (2005- 2012)
Advisory Board for Healthy Hoops with Keystone Mercy (2005 – 2014)
Board of Directors, Burn Foundation (1987 – 1995)
Board of Directors, American Diabetes Association (1984 – 1999)


Drexel University School of Public Health, Dean Advisory Board (2005 – 2009)
Chester Education Foundation (2006 – present)
Widener University for new Charter School (2005 – present)
Chester High School, Health Academy Advisory Board (2005 – 2014)
Advisory Board for Chester Youth Collaborative (2004 – 2014)
DVHC Advisory Board for Culture Competency, President (2005 – 2010)
Novation task force for Enteral Feeding (2006 – 2014)
Chester Environmental Partnership Advisory Board (2005 – 2011)
Advisory Board for Chester Food Cooperation (2006 – 2010)
Advisory Board for Healthy Hoops with Keystone Mercy (2005 – 2014)
ChesPenn Board of Directors (2007 – present)

Dr. Linwood R. Haith, Jr, MD, FACS, FCCM

Dr. Linwood R. Haith, Jr, MD, FACS, FCCM

We are excited to present Dr. Linwood R. Haith, Jr, MD, FACS, FCCM as our next Delaware County Black Public Health Pioneer. Congratulations Dr. Haith!

Growing up in Fayetteville, North Carolina Dr. Haith knew from a young age that medicine would be his calling. Dr. Linwood Haith attended Yale University where gained the fundamentals he would need for a future in medicine.

Upon graduating from Yale, Dr. Haith went on to Harvard Medical School with the vision of entering the field of pediatrics. He soon realized he did not possess the proper level of maturity to deal with the distraught parents of a sick child. Dr. Haith then returned to Yale to begin his surgical internship and completed his residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Dr, Haith later partnered with C. Edward Hartford, the 13th president of the American Burn Association who introduced Dr. Haith to a thriving career in burn care.

Dr. Linwood R. Haith Jr currently serves on the Board of trustees and was previously the president of the American Burn Association which he has been a member of since 1981. Not only is Dr. Haith a member of the general Surgical Staff at Crozer Chester Medical Center but he is involved in the care management of over 500 severely burned patients a year. His extensive work with burn management awarded him the position of Director at the Nathan Speare Regional Burn Treatment Center.

In addition to his work as a surgeon, Dr. Haith is a Clinical Professor of Surgery at Drexel College of Medicine which also assists in the surgical and burn education of students from Thomas Jefferson University, Temple University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and numerous other surgical departments in the Philadelphia Area.

Member of:

Living Beyond Breast Cancer- Board Member

Philadelphia Academy of Surgery- President

American College of Surgeons- Governor

Philadelphia Metro Chapter of American

College of Surgeons- President

International Society of Burn Injuries

Society of Critical Care Medicine

Surgical Infection Society

Dr. Kai Turner, DO, FAAP

Dr. Kai Turner

It is with great pride that we announce Dr. Kai Turner, DO, FAAP has been selected as the first Delaware County Black Public Health Pioneer. Congratulations Dr. Kai Turner!

Being the youngest of our Black Public Health Pioneers has not stopped Dr. Turner from making impressive strides in medicine.

Raised in Richmond, VA Dr. Kai Turner would go on to graduate summa cum laude as she earned her undergraduate degree with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry at Howard University. She would later receive a master’s degree in medical science from the University of South Florida. She then attended Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Virginia Tech, where she served as a Student Ambassador and Interviewer, Vice Chair of the Honor Code Council, member of the Student National Medical Association for minority medical students, participated in medical mission trips to Central America and was voted Student of the Year during her clinical year of medical school.

Dr. Kai Turner previously served as Pediatric Chief Resident at Crozer-Keystone Health System’s Pediatric Residency Program.

Currently, Dr. Kai Turner serves as:

Full-time pediatrician at ChesPenn- a federally qualified health center.

Lead pediatrician for uniform data system measures and quality improvement and plays an integral role in the medical-dental integration program, at ChesPenn Health Services.

Serves on the Board of Directors for the Delaware County Medical Society.

Participates in community COVID vaccination events.

Panelist on podcasts/virtual town hall meetings held for children and parents in the Chester and Philadelphia communities.

Dr. Turner's passion has always been to bring medical care to the urban community. She aspires to bring healthcare to the medically underserved pediatric population.

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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.

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