Dr. Olga Stastny
Medical School: University of Nebraska Medical School, 1913
Specialty: Obstetrics, Anesthesiology
- Emeritus Professor, University of Nebraska College of Medicine
- Chair, Department of Hygiene and Social Service in Prague
- Medical Director AWH units in Loutraki and Macronissi Islands (Greece)
- Chairman, Health Department of the YMCA (Czechoslovakia)
Service with AMWA: President 1930-1931, First Vice-President, Treasurer, Medical Director AWH units in Loutraki and Macronissi Islands (Greece), Delegate at 1925 International AMWA Conference
Quote: (on her desire to participate help in the war effort in 1918) “I want to get to France, even if I have to scrub floors.”1
Olga Stastny was born in Nebraska, the second of eight children born to Czechoslovakian parents Francis and Teresa Sadilek. In 1895, she married Charles Stastny, who became a dentist. The couple dreamed of pursuing medical studies, but Charles died at age 28, leaving her to raise their two children alone. Olga later enrolled in the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, graduating in 1913 as the only woman in her class. After an obstetrical internship at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, she returned to Nebraska to practice. She became an active member of the Medical Women’s National Association (later renamed AMWA) and worked to promote equal opportunity for women physicians.
At the advent WWI, Dr. Stastny was a fervent supporter of the war efforts. She joined the American Women’s Hospitals (AWH), a relief agency founded by AMWA and helped organize the Americanization Department of the Nebraska Council of Defense. In 1919, she joined AWH Unit #1 in France to aid the reconstruction efforts. For her service, the French government awarded her the Medaille de Reconnaissance . Dr. Stastny later relocated to Czechoslovakia to serve as chair of the Department of Hygiene and Social Service in Prague. There, she established a child welfare station, campaigned against tuberculosis, and lectured extensively on preventive medicine and sexual hygiene. She continued her work in health prevention programs until the death of her son Robert, after which she returned to the U.S. to grieve her loss.
Dr. Statsny would work abroad again as medical director of the AWH units in Loutraki and Macronissi Islands in Greece, where she coordinated care for thousands of Greek refugees from the Near East. She received the Cross of Saint George from the Grecian government for her heroic work, despite dangerous and desperate conditions. Back in the U.S., Dr. Statsny continued her involvement in AMWA and was a delegate to the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA). In 1931, she received the Noguchi Gold Medal for her work in preventive medicine; in 1948, she became professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine. She served as trustee of Doane College (Crete) and the University of Nebraska Foundation and remained an active volunteer until her death at the age of 74.
Photo Courtesy of Drexel University, School of Medicine, Archives & Special Collections
1 “Omaha’s Grandmother Doctor Awaits Her Call.” Omaha World-Herald, 1918, in Olga Stastny
Collection, State Archives, Nebraska State Historical Society.
Andrews-Koryta, S. “Dr. Olga Stastny, Her Service to Nebraska and the World.” Nebraska
History 68 (1987): 20-27.