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Published: Wednesday, 9/19/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Patricia A. Beidleman, 1943-2012: Nurse helped plan Life Flight in late ’70s

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Patricia A. Beidleman, a registered nurse at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center who was admired as a leader, died Sunday in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. She was 69.

She retired about 10 years ago, her brother, Thomas, said. She had diabetes for more than two decades and in recent years dealt with complications of pulmonary hypertension and renal failure, he said.

She was the clinical director of emergency and clinical services as Life Flight was being planned in the late 1970s, largely in secret, said Pat Yancy-Felton, emergency room director and, for Life Flight, chief flight and program director.

Life Flight was the first medical helicopter service in the area, and "it couldn't have happened without her," Ms. Yancy-Felton said.

Ms. Beidleman cared about nursing and her patients and the reputation of nursing in whatever role she had, Ms. Yancy-Felton said, whether she was a head nurse or clinical director or managing a doctor's office through an arm of St. Vincent.

"She was a born leader," Ms. Yancy-Felton said. "You never had to worry about Pat following, because Pat was leading the crowd. She could think of a project from its inception to its completion and evaluate whether it was a good job or something we could have done better.

"She had a charisma about her, and she led by example. She was a great nurse. That was the first thing."

Ms. Beidleman was an advocate for patients' rights and urged doctors to improve their bedside manner, her brother said.

"She bucked the system and was a trendsetter," he said.

She knew what was going on with patients, and "if she felt something was needed, she wouldn't wait for a doc to come in," said Sharlotte Turin, a colleague and a friend since nursing school 49 years ago. "She would do whatever needed to be done to get the patient the care needed."

Physicians noticed. "They trusted her and gave her a great deal of respect, which then carried on to the nurses who worked for and with her. It made everybody step up to the plate, as it were," Ms. Turin said.

She was born May 27, 1943, to Phyllis and Roy Beidleman. Her father was a Toledo police officer for 27 years; worked security for University of Toledo sporting events, and was a supervisor in the auto title division of the Lucas County clerk of courts.

She grew up in West Toledo and was a graduate of St. Ursula Academy. She was a graduate of the St. Vincent School of nursing. She later received a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the former Mary Manse College.

Her superiors at St. Vincent saw she was a leader and promoted her. As Life Flight was being planned, Ms. Yancy-Felton recalled, "we wrote policy and procedure at my dining room table after work."

Ms. Turin came to St. Vincent nursing school from a small town in Kentucky and found a friend in Ms. Beidleman — and an extended family.

"She invited me into her home and her family. They just kind of adopted me," Ms. Turin said. "Any time there were family things, I was there. We kind of bonded, and it became a lifelong friendship."

To many children, she was "Aunt Patty."

"She was a big presence. She was very gregarious and happy, and you didn't have to guess what was on her mind," Ms. Turin said. "She loved Christmas. She was generous. She loved to give things. That was a very, very big part of her life."

In recent years, she and her aunt Patricia Dowling lived in side-by-side Sylvania Township condominiums.

Surviving is her brother, Thomas Beidleman.

Services will be at 10 a.m. today in Historic Church of St. Patrick, where she was a member. Visitation at the church is at 9:30 a.m. Arrangements are by the Coyle Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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