Minerva Blegen Sathe, RN, was a pioneer nursing figure in Spokane County and played a pivotal role in bringing quality health care to its residents.
She came to Spokane in 1921 as an American Red Cross nurse and became Spokane County’s first and only public health nurse in 1923. Her early duties included water and sanitation inspections and grew to include responsibility for health programs in 155 area schools. Her visits to schools were made in a Model‑T Ford over bumpy, dusty roads to bring immunizations and health examinations to hundreds of students.
In 1935, during her employment, the county health office received special recognition for its progress in the health field for five consecutive years. Its staff grew under her guidance, and in 1951 Minerva became Director of the Public Health Nursing office. She was instrumental in setting up various clinics with private physicians and county nurses for prenatal care of women, examination of crippled children and mental health care.
At her retirement in 1965, she had served Spokane County for 42 years and had helped the office grow from a staff of one (herself) to 16 employed nurses under her direction. She played a pivotal role in ushering in many health care changes including the first use of the Salk vaccine for polio. Minerva’s dedication to the improvement of health care and her years of public service helped create an atmosphere in which quality care could grow for the residents of Spokane County.