Barbara Roberts was one of the first female cardiologist – ever! And on top of that, she isn’t just your average cardiologist. In fact, she’s known for fearlessly offering her services to one patient in particular – New England crime boss, Raymond Loreda Salvatore Patriarca.
The First Female Cardiologist, Ever
Barbara grew up as the oldest of 10 children on 52 acres of land outside New York City. She says her father, the head of a devout catholic family, worshipped only priests and doctors. So at the young age of 16, she decided to pursue a career in medicine, but it wasn’t until years later, on her OBGYN rotations, that she gave herself the title of a feminist. After seeing the devastating effects of back-ally abortions, she began fighting for women’s rights and even joined in anti-war rallies too.
A Strange Twist of Fate
When her first marriage ended, the single mother moved to Boston for a fellowship. There, she became the first female cardiologist in the state. As her career grew to be more and more successful, doctors began to refer patients to her. One exciting chain of events led to the referral of a man known to be the head of the New England mafia, Raymond Loreda Salvatore Patriarca.
Raymond Senior as she calls him, went on to be her patient for almost four years. She had the courage to stand by an old man who was now in his 70s, and yet only four years removed from prison, through both medical and legal battles.
Barbara chose to take this infamous client on because she takes her Hippocratic Oath seriously. She knows, without a doubt, all people deserve proper medical care.
Amidst it all, she kept secret her love affair with another member of the mafia, in order to make her testimony valid when she proclaimed that Raymond Senior was medically unfit for trial.
A Different Kind of Courage
But perhaps the most courageous thing Barbara did was keeping calm among the chaos – a common trait we see amongst medical professionals. She somehow endured custody battles for her own children as well as balanced the pressure of a career which was studded with crime and romance. All the while, never straying far from her feminist values.
Barbra finally share's her incredible story in her new memoir, The Doctor Broad: A Mafia Love Story. It's an incredible tale that's just crazy enough to be true.