SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 07, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — Marquis Who’s Who, the world’s premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Bonita Ann Palmer with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Dr. Palmer celebrates many years’ experience in her professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes she has accrued in her field. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
As a small child, Dr. Palmer dreamed of becoming a doctor and healer. She aspired to integrate scientific medicine with the creative healing arts to help relieve individual suffering, and to further wholeness and justice in the community. Her mother, two sisters, and a female cousin chose careers in nursing. And a male cousin is also a UVM medical graduate. Dr. Palmer, however, was the first woman in the family to practice medicine. She has benefited, however, from being a member of one of the first colonial families in America, whose members have shown leadership in religion, business, government, and the military.
As a teenager Dr. Palmer greatly admired Dr. Martin Luther King — his spiritual leadership and his political activism. She won a New York State Regents and a Vassar scholarship, and worked as a dining room waitress, a seamstress, and a taxi cab driver. Dr. Palmer was privileged to attend Vassar College where she earned an A.B. cum laude in Biochemistry. She went on to study medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont when there were only five other women in her class. Inspired by the patient-centered reforms taking place in women’s health she took a year out of medical school to work at the pioneering Vermont Women’s Health Center.
With her interest in social justice, the traditional healing arts, and service in a more woman-affirming environment (1/3rd of her internship was female) she successfully competed for coveted training opportunities at San Francisco General Hospital. There she completed two years training in Family and Community Medicine taking call every third night. She sustained her passion for the healing arts by training in meditation, acupressure, biofeedback, and psycho-synthesis in association with the SFGH Complementary Care Center and expanded her community with other healers by becoming a Charter Member of the American Holistic Medical Association, a founding member of the California Association of Lesbian Physicians, and the first woman member of the Board of Physicians for Human Rights (later to be renamed the American Gay and Lesbian Physicians Association).
Shortly after her postgraduate training, Dr. Palmer experienced a life changing spiritual opening that deepened her awareness of the power of dreams to facilitate spiritual growth and the integration of body/mind/spirit. She began a lifelong practice of recording her dreams, earned a Masters in Integral Counseling Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies becoming a LMFT, dream group facilitator, and practicing Jungian Psychotherapist. She subsequently expanded her integrative skills by earning a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from the San Francisco Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), and completing a year-long training in Spiritual Emergence Syndromes offered by CIIS.
While Dr. Palmer has enjoyed a private practice of Integrative Medicine for over 35 years, she has also valued serving in numerous community clinics including the Berkeley Women’s Health Center, Min An Health Center (Western and Chinese Medicine), the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Chico, CA, and the St. Luke’s Neighborhood Clinic. While a consummate clinician, she has also excelled at teaching, serving 25 years as an assistant clinical professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. She also deepened her spirituality by studying for a Master of Divinity at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Episcopal). After seminary she was awarded an $80,000 grant from Trinity Wall Street to design and lead the diocesan Formation for Healing Ministries. The FHMP trained lay leaders in 50% of parishes to provide prayer with the Laying on of Hands with Anointing for healing during Sunday services.
Dr. Palmer has served as a lay professional in many roles including lecturing on congregational healing ministry at the Pacific School of Religion, and in numerous chaplaincy programs. She has served for many years as a member of the Professional Advisory Group for the Clinical Pastoral Education Program for the California Pacific Medical Center where she provides palliative care to hospitalized patients offering Reiki Touch Therapy and Clinical Integrative Guided Imagery to hospitalized patients, and sometimes, deepening patient relaxation by playing soothing instrumental music at the bedside. A life-long choral singer, Dr. Palmer has sung in church choirs since childhood. While in college, she enjoyed four-part close acapella harmony singing with the Vassar Night Owls (the longest established Ivy League acapella women’s singing group). This experience helped prepare her to now sing quiet comforting songs to the dying in hospices, and homes with two or three other women members of the Threshold Choir.
Like many young people during the turmoil of the 60’s, Dr. Palmer drifted away from the church when she was disillusioned by how the church fell short of its teaching. Her church in Freeport, LI was ½ African American but it had no black clergy, and while riots broke out at the high school–no sermons about civil rights were preached. She returned to the church after depending heavily on prayer to survive caring for very needy patients. After coming out as bisexual and returning to the Episcopal Church at the age of 30, Dr. Palmer was ambivalent knowing that the church was the source of implacable homophobia. But a gay neighbor who had been a Catholic monk told her about the Episcopal parish in the Mission where a friend was serving as a deacon. Over time she realized that she had found a very progressive congregation who welcomed her activism. She was able to join with other GLBT clergy and laity in the Diocese of California who were starting the first outreach “ministry of reconciliation” to the GLBT community called The Parsonage. Set in the Castro neighborhood, the geographical center of the growing worldwide effort for justice for gay people, The Parsonage helped educate the national church leadership.
Over 20 years of leadership by Dr. Palmer, with many others in the Episcopal Church furthering the greater inclusion of women and GLBT persons in all ministries of the church culminated finally in the approval of same-sex marriage. Her historical archives, including her ministry with the Commission on the Status of Women furthering her justice-making efforts, have been preserved by the San Francisco GLBT History Project.
Dr. Palmer feels that above all, the highlight of her career was this opportunity to play a key leadership role in saving St. Luke’s Hospital—a historic charity hospital founded over 150 years ago by the Rev. Thomas Brotherton MD, who at the time was Rector of St. John the Evangelist Church, the Episcopal Church, in the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. Dr. Palmer had lived in the Mission and attended St. John’s for over 40 years. Like so many community hospitals serving primarily poor and multicultural communities that depend on Medicaid and Medicare funding, St. Luke’s was losing money and was threatened with closure, After an extensive search for a potential strategic partner, Sutter Healthcare Systems had struck a deal with the Episcopal Diocese of California to help to make the hospital potentially profitable.
But, Sutter Health failed in its effort, and announced that St. Luke’s would close in 2007. The Board of St. Luke’s Hospital, the governing Medical Executive Committee, and the majority of the medical staff had been convinced it was impossible to do otherwise. Dr. Palmer, however, was known to the leader of the Bay Area Organizing Committee, an alliance of churches, unions, and community leaders, who were planning a public meeting to highlight the need to save the hospital, and was asked to offer the keynote address.
Her talk was heard by a few doctors she invited to attend the meeting. It was then published in the hospital newspaper… and it resurrected hope among the St. Luke’s doctors. They began to meet to initiate networking with city leaders and to prepare to lobby and to offer essential testimony at 20 hearings over the course of two years. Dr. Palmer was able to draw upon her many years of experience organizing and preparing speakers to effectively testify on progressive issues at Conventions of the Episcopal Church… to help the doctors to testify. In the fight to save St. Luke’s, the doctor’s first hand testimony was a source of trusted authority on their patient’s and the community’s needs, was critical to negotiating a legal agreement with the city of San Francisco to build a new retrofitted structure to continue the hospital’s mission.
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