Dr. Carmela Foderaro deRivas, one of Philadelphia's first female physicians, dies at 95

Carmela Foderaro deRivas, MD, one of the Philadelphia area's first female physicians, died Oct. 6 of dementia, according to Philly.com.

She was 95 years old.

A psychiatrist and administrator, Dr. deRivas was only 4 feet 9 inches tall but was "a woman truly ahead of her time," as described by members of her family, according to the article.

She came to Philadelphia from her hometown in Italy in 1935. Though she didn't speak English, she was a fast learner and graduated at the top of her high school class. After earning a medical degree from the Women's Medical College of Philadelphia in 1946, Dr. deRivas completed her residency at Norristown (Pa.) State Hospital and eventually became the first female superintendent of the facility in 1964.

Dr. deRivas later took a position as a psychiatrist for Sellersville, Pa.-based Penn Foundation Mental Health location in 1970. Two years later, she became director of intake services at Norristown-based Central Montgomery Mental Health/Mental Retardation Center. She served as medical director from 1977 until she retired in 1982.

Her husband, urologist Aureliano Rivas, MD, was one of the first U.S. Army Reserve brigadier generals born in Puerto Rico. Dr. Rivas died in 2004. The couple had four children.

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