The hospital would forever changer her - and she would forever change it - and the delivery of health care in Butler County.
She was a frightened little 9-year-old girl laying in a hospital in DuBois PA, a fresh scar where her appendix had once been.
"And I was so impressed with the nurses who cared for me, that I decided 'I want to be one of them,'" said Carol Dietrich.
And so, years later, the DuBois native came to Butler, PA to attend the Butler County Memorial Hospital Nursing School. She graduated with her RN.
Carol then went to work as a staff nurse on the 5th floor surgical unit at Butler Memorial Hospital. The hospital would forever changer her - and she would forever change it - and the delivery of health care in Butler County.
Not long after, she became a clinical instructor in the Butler Nursing School and taught generations of nurses the art of caring for others until the school closed in 1974.
From there Carol went on to create Butler Hospital's first infection control program. She went to the Centers for Disease Control to train and returned to BMH, making it one of only 4 hospitals in the nation its size to have such a sophisticated infection control program.
But for Carol, that wasn't enough. Her creative spirit and passion for care led her to Slippery Rock University to complete her Bachelor's in Nursing and to become Director of Nursing for Butler Hospital. Then, on to her Matster's in Nursing Administration at the University of Pittsburgh while serving in her director's role at BMH. Then post graduate study in Healthcare Finance at Ohio State University.
"I never wanted to be the top person in the hospital," Carol confesses, but fate had other plans. From the 1980s well into the 90s, each time a CEO of the hospital left, Carol was asked by the Board to serve as Interim Administrator. Three times she filled the role, until her retirement in 1997. In times of leadership upheaval, Carol served as the glue theat kept BMH together and progressing.
But it was in her last 10 years of her career that she really drove the delivery of healthcare to new heights in Butler County.
In the early 1990s, when the concept of implementing and measuring quality in hospitals had just bubbled up, Carol was part of a team at BMH that helped to create the health care criteria for the federal government's Malcolm Baldrige award. That criteria is used today by the federal government to determine hospital quality.
She created the Paramedic Services function at BMH, developing a unit that provided education and training on trauma, heart attacks and more to the paramedic and EMT units throughout Butler County. The program taught new techniqes and skills to EMT who in turn, used those skills to save lives.
Then, when providing prenatal care to uninsured women became a crisis in Butler County, Carol led the charge in creating the Maternal Services Program, which to this day provides pre and post natal care to low income, uninsured women from Butler County. Because of it, thousands of healthy babies have been born, virtually eliminating low birth weight babies in this area.
Carol always had a vision that health care was more than healing and more than physical well being. She had an inherent belief that every piece of the individual had to be well - physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual. That philosophy led her to spawn the creation of the Family First Resource Center in Butler. Born out of an old armory, the program focuses on the non-tradional components of health care - everything from classes for teen fathers, to support groups for children losing a loved one, to literacy programs to strategies for children with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Perhaps her most crowning achievement however, was her vision of how to improve community health. Based on her holistic definition of health, she developed the concept of a community health assessment to determine a way to assess what a community's health problems are and then put strategies in place to address them. Her idea grew so that the national hospital consortium Voluntary Hospitals of America chose BMH as one of three facilities in the nation to trial the concept of Community Health Assessment.
BMH's Communtiy Health Assessment process has changed the way hospitals deliver care. Today, hundreds of hopitals assess their community's health issues and then put programs and strategies into place to address them based on the Butler model. It was BMH's Community health assessment process that identified the need for high end heart care in Butler County, giving birth to BMH's now prestigious Heart and Vascular Center.
This incredible series of lifetime achievements bespeak the drive, the vision and the fortitude of Carol Dietrich.
The Carol and Richard Dietrich Memorial Education Fund
Carol A. Dietrich dedicated her entire adult life to health care and the care of others. When she retired as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Memorial Hospital in 1997, she left a legacy of care for the people of our region to be envied.
Upon her passing in 2009, her family and friends created the Carol A. Dietrich Memorial Education Fund at the Butler Health System Foundation to assure major educational programming for health care professionals; including doctors, nurses and ancillary personnel.
This fund will provides resources to assure one major continuing education conference at the BHS Knowledge Institute in the new patient tower at Butler Memorial Hospital, as well as potential support for other educational pursuits for health care professionals.
Phone - 724-284-4716