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Published: Thursday, 10/17/2013

Carol Topliff [1939-2013]; Emergency room nurse known as ‘great teacher’

BLADE STAFF
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Carol Topliff, who kept patient care at the fore as head nurse of hospital emergency rooms, died Sept. 18 of pulmonary edema in University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital. She was 74.

Ms. Topliff of Maumee retired in 1991 from the Medical College of Ohio. She worked in the emergency department there and at its predecessor, Maumee Valley Hospital, and was head nurse for 15 years.

“She was good at making quick decisions, and she was respectful of everyone and knew everything that was going on in the emergency room at any one time,” said Pat Harmon, who was MCO director of nursing.

Ms. Topliff’s skills in emergency and trauma nursing were evident as a student at the Maumee Valley Hospital’s nursing school, said Ann Baker, a friend and an associate professor emeritus of what is now UT’s college of nursing.

“She was very revered,” Ms. Baker said. “She was an expert clinician, and she developed administrative skills as time went on.”

Ms. Topliff took paramedic training so that she could teach nursing students about that facet of emergency care, and she encouraged paramedics to train in emergency departments.

“She was a great teacher,” said Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, who met Ms. Topliff in 1964 during his surgical residency at Maumee Valley Hospital. He also met a student nurse, Dorothy Brown, whom he married four years later.

“She became a mentor and a friend, but a family friend. She was smart like a whip, but also had a personality where she could take on anybody when it came to patients,” said Dr. Hussain, who is a Blade columnist. “Patients came first and foremost, and she was fearless, and that was a trait my wife inherited from Carol.”

Mrs. Hussain died in 2006.

Ms. Topliff in retirement worked for home health agencies with a specialty in intravenous therapy, Ms. Baker said.

In her large garden, she planted beans, onions, pumpkins, and more tomatoes than a single person could consume. Instead, she gave some away and saved others for her secret spaghetti sauce. Friends were like family, and she took summer vacations to a variety of lakes with many of them. Most of those friends were health-care professionals, and many of their children only trusted Ms. Topliff with the first-aid kit.

Spaghetti and her sauce were part of 25 Christmas Eves she spent with Ms. Baker, her husband, and their children.

“She was one of those people who was a positive influence in life,” Ms. Baker said.

Ms. Topliff was secretary of her book club in Maumee, and she was a watercolorist and poet, Ms. Baker said.

She was born Caroline Louise Topliff, the daughter of Frances and Norman Topliff, on March 6, 1939, and grew up in West Toledo. She was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School and the Maumee Valley Hospital school of nursing.

There are no immediate survivors.

A life celebration party is 2-6 p.m. Sunday in Premier Catering on Heatherdowns Boulevard, where friends and colleagues will share stories from 3-4 p.m.

Tributes are suggested to nursing scholarships in memory of Dorothy Hussain at the UT Foundation.

— Mark Zaborney



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