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Bernadine Healy, former head of Red Cross, dies

Dr. Bernadine Healy, the first woman to direct the National Institutes of Health and the leader of the American Red Cross during the Sept. 11 terror attacks, has died. She was 67.

Healy died at her home in suburban Cleveland on Saturday, according to Schulte & Mahon-Murphy Funeral Homes in Lyndhurst. She had suffered from brain cancer, but the cause of her death wasn't released.

Healy, a Republican, headed the National Institutes of Health under President George H.W. Bush and lost a bid in 1994 for the U.S. Senate in Ohio.

Forceful, outspoken and a strong advocate for women's health, Healy appeared frequently on network TV news shows to talk about health issues and wrote a column for U.S. News and World Report

"I always try not to be strident, but I do try to be forceful about things that are right," Healy once said.

Her tenure at the National Institutes of Health during the early 1990s was marked by internal struggles and battles with Congress.

She left Washington after President Bill Clinton decided not to appoint her to another term and ran for Senate in Ohio, where she lost badly in the GOP primary.

She became dean of the Ohio State University medical school and then took over as president at the Red Cross in 1999.

Disagreements with the board at the nation's largest charity led to her resignation just two months after 9/11. Healy said she was forced out in part over differences with what to do with nearly $500 million that the Red Cross raised following the terrorist attacks.

She became a familiar face at the sites of the attacks and also organized a White House blood drive and filming a public-service announcement that aired on TV. But blood experts criticized her for encouraging more donations than needed to treat the relatively few survivors in New York.

She also came under fire for initially refusing to go along with a coordinated effort to track assistance recipients and for her plans to use financial donations for Sept. 11 relief efforts to create a strategic blood reserve and prepare for future terrorist attacks.

Healy, a native of Queens, N.Y., earned her medical degree from Harvard. She won a professorship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and became a science adviser to President Reagan in 1984.

She is survived by husband Floyd Loop, former chief executive officer of the Cleveland Clinic, and two daughters.

There will be a funeral Mass Wednesday in Gates Mills, a suburb near Cleveland.

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