In January, a week prior to the holiday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the Johns Hopkins community gathered to celebrate the life of Idoreyin P. Montague, an accomplished second-year combined internal medicine and pediatrics resident physician.
Montague, who was 30 years old, was killed in a car accident on Dec. 24.
Hundreds of physicians, nurses, students and other hospital employees, many who worked directly with Montague during her brief tenure at Johns Hopkins, crowded the historic Hurd Hall to pay final respects to “a star” who was training toward a career in primary care specifically for marginalized populations. Also present were her parents, three siblings, and other close family and friends, including her boyfriend, who was with her shortly before her passing.
A common thread among the many who spoke was Montague’s unwavering dedication to her patients. Trainees who worked with her shared their memories of her and how she inspired them to be better advocates for their own patients. A supervising physician spoke of her untiring commitment to ensure that a cancer patient she had admitted to the hospital, who was also struggling with drug addiction, received substance abuse counseling so he/she could receive the necessary cancer treatment. That patient is still alive several months later because of Montague’s efforts.
Her impact was felt among even the most senior physicians, including a former director of the department of medicine, who was moved to tears as he spoke of her. Her program director spoke of the young physician’s numerous attributes that had endeared her to so many at the hospital and in the community. Her Baltimore church pastor said her life had even strengthened his own spiritual walk.
Shortly before the program’s conclusion, a video played of Montague alone in her car, wearing her white lab coat, singing verses of Charles Tindley’s hymn “Beams of Heaven” as she recorded herself.
“I do not know how long ’twill be, nor what the future holds for me. But this I know, if Jesus leads me, I shall get home someday.”
Montague’s legacy will live on with an eponymous scholarship and an annual Urban Health Grand Rounds in her honor, which will bring together the departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was a graduate of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.