Celebrating a Genesis Legend

Emergency nurse recognized with highest employee honor

Betty CarterNurse Betty Carter has always liked the adrenaline rush that comes with caring for patients rushed to the Genesis Emergency Department.

From heart attacks to traumatic injuries to the more routine ailments, it’s a place to provide patients immediate care and solve their problems pretty fast. She finds it so satisfying, she still works there four years after officially “retiring.” She continues to work per diem in the Emergency Department (E.D.), where she spent more than 25 years of her career.

Her nursing career began more than 50 years ago at the St. Luke’s School of Nursing in Davenport. In 1962, she graduated from St. Luke’s, a predecessor hospital of Genesis Medical Center, Davenport. She worked there her entire nursing career -- with only a few breaks after she had her children.

As she tells it, “I’d been floating nights on the Birthing Unit. One night many years ago, they asked me to work in the Emergency Department. I liked the fast pace and decided to stay. You meet vulnerable people from all walks of life, and it’s a great place to learn a little of everything.”

Recently, she was humbled to receive the Legend Award, the highest employee honor at Genesis. “Genesis has always been a faithful, good employer,” says Carter of Princeton, Iowa. “The people who work in health care are good people, and I’ve made a lot of good friends here.”

Five decades of change

She has seen a lot of changes over the years. “We can now have a patient in the midst of a heart attack come into the E.D. Only minutes later, the patient has had that blocked artery cleared in the cardiac catheterization lab. In a day or two, he or she is headed home,” she says. “The changes in technology I’ve seen first-hand over the last 50 years have made so much healing possible.”

One of the most difficult days of her career was also among her most rewarding, she says. A woman who was eight months pregnant suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm on the same day her father died. CPR was started at the scene on the mother. “When the mother made it to the E.D., it became apparent she was not going to survive, but we were able to save the baby,” Carter recalls.

As an E.D. Charge Nurse, Carter guided staff with her expertise and calm demeanor. Hard-working, always smiling and with a stamina that belies her age, she continues to be committed to providing high-quality nursing care.

“Betty always will go above and beyond to do whatever needs to be done,” says Patty Garrels, her E.D. manager. “She has an amazing work ethic and is someone everyone looks up to.”

Community service

In 2008, the year she retired, Carter was honored as one of the top 100 Great Iowa Nurses. And, as all the Genesis Legends who have come before her, her compassion and service to others is not limited to her workplace.

She has served as a parish nurse; taught safety to schoolchildren; and as a Master Gardner, has volunteered her time through the Garden Growers Coalition.

“She is very active in her community and church,” says Genesis employee health nurse Deborah Bogs, who nominated Carter for the award. “She assists with organizing the community blood drive. When she is needed, she works with the physicians at Davenport Surgical Group and at the area high school as a nurse. She comforts the sick and provides food to the elderly in the rural areas. Each year, she is a great help during the Genesis flu vaccination program. And, she often works for other Genesis employees who want to spend time with their children during the holidays.”

Carter‘s compassion has also taken her on various mission trips over the years. She has joined Dr. Joe Lohmuller’s team on a mission trip to Peru. Following Hurricane Katrina, she was one of the first Genesis employees to travel to New Orleans to assist in the devastating hurricane’s aftermath. For her efforts, she was among rescue workers celebrated by Oprah Winfrey as a lucky audience member on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” show.

On another mission trip, she lived in a parasite-filled orphanage and helped people living in the dumps of Mexico. Amid the poverty she has seen, she is always amazed at the joyful people she encounters. It teaches her lessons on how to live her own life.

“The Legend Award is a great honor,” she concludes. “It shows me that what we do as nurses is not lost; we make an important difference.”

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