In Memoriam: Goldie Brangman, MEd, MBA, CRNA (1917-2020)

  • Feb 10, 2020

Goldie Brangman presented with flowers at the 2009 AANA Annual Meeting in San DiegoFormer AANA President Goldie Brangman, MEd, MBA, CRNA, passed away peacefully on February 9, 2020, at age 102. A visionary and pioneer in nurse anesthesia, Brangman achieved many notable accomplishments throughout her illustrious career, including her term as the first and only African-American president of the AANA.

She began her nursing career at Harlem Hospital in 1940, where she began working after graduating from the hospital's nursing school in 1943. When the hospital’s physician anesthesiologists were called up to serve in WWII, nurses began to train to administer anesthesia. Brangman studied with renowned anesthesiologist Helene Mayer at Harlem Hospital and passed the national certification exam.  “The residents and surgeons trained us in all aspects of anesthesia,” Brangman told Minority Nurse magazine in 2013. “I really enjoyed the work. Unlike many nursing jobs, [in nurse anesthesia] you have a beginning and an end – you put the patient to sleep and you later have the satisfaction of seeing them wake up and begin the recovery process.”

In 1949, Brangman established the Harlem Hospital Nurse Anesthesia program, and served as its director until her retirement in 1985. “There weren’t too many schools at the time that admitted blacks, men, or students from foreign countries,” she explained to Minority Nurse. “We would hold dinners each weekend and try different foods representing one of our students’ diverse ethnic backgrounds.”

In September 1958, Brangman served on the surgical team that operated on Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been stabbed while at a book signing at a department store in Harlem. Brangman’s account of the event is co-recorded with colleague Evan Koch, MSN, CRNA, in the AANA Journal’s December 2015 Imagining in Time column.

Brangman served as president of the New York Association of Nurse Anesthetists in 1959, then went on to serve nationally on the AANA Board of Directors, first as treasurer (1967-69), vice president (1971-72), president-elect (1972-73), and then as the first African-American AANA president in 1973-74. As president she improved communication among AANA and its members, the public, legislators and other healthcare organizations. She also created a business structure for the national association, including the implementation of job descriptions, financial managers, employment plans, and the establishment of an Executive Committee.

Brangman's term as president saw the modernization of the AANA Annual Meeting, including concomitant lectures, refresher courses, and special activities, as well as lectures for students. The annual business meeting was streamlined with distribution of committee reports and other important information in written form. During the 1974 meeting, with Brangman leading, the members voted to approve the board’s recommendation to discontinue holding the AANA Annual Meeting in conjunction with the American Hospital Association.

An innovator and champion of nurse anesthesia education, Brangman also introduced workshops on quality assurance and helped write the AANA Quality Assurance Manual. She initiated the introduction of workshops on local/regional anesthesia at the annual meeting, and was one of the first to teach regional anesthesia techniques in her anesthesia program and at many state association and AANA meetings.

In 1983, Brangman received the AANA’s 4th Helen Lamb Outstanding Educator Award. At the reception, she asked her students, past and present, to “stand and share this moment with me,” as she accepted the award.

Twelve years later, she was awarded AANA’s highest honor, the Agatha Hodgins Award for Outstanding Accomplishment, for exemplifying her “history as a dedicated visionary activist in the field of nurse anesthesia,” said AANA President Mary DePaolis-Lutzo, PhD, CRNA.

After retiring to Hawaii in 1985, Brangman continued working as a health consultant to the Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross, where she was one of 14 national faculty members for HIV education. According to Hawaii News Now, she was named a Red Cross Volunteer Hero in 2018, for her work as an educator and her classes on HIV, AIDS, First Aid, CPR, childcare, babysitting and nurse assistant training. She travelled to neighboring islands to train 52 registered nurses, and even served as shelter manager in Kauai during Hurricane Iniki, housing 2,000 residents and tourists and even a goose. She also served on the Hawaii Red Cross board of directors.

A memorial service will be held on March 8, 2020, at 1 p.m. local time at Keolumana United Methodist Church, 1425 Keolu Drive, Kailua, HI 96734.

Below are links to archival videos of Ms. Brangman talking about various aspects of her career, and two interviews she did about the Martin Luther King, Jr., operation: 

Goldie Brangman Receives Agatha Hodgins Award 1995

Goldie Brangman, MEd, MBA, CRNA, receives the 1995 Agatha Hodgins Award for Outstanding Accomplishment from AANA President Mary DePaolis-Lutzo, PhD, CRNA.

October 1958 NewsBulletin Goldie Brangman

Photo from the October 1958
AANA NewsBulletin. Goldie Brangman is pictured second from the left.

1968 Board of Trustees
Click on photo to see larger version. 1968 AANA Board of Trustees. Goldie Brangman, AANA Treasurer, pictured in first row at far right.