Sister Alberta, 83, led St. Agnes Hospital

September 28, 1994|By Dewitt Bliss | Dewitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

Sister Alberta Beckwith, president of the board and administrator of St. Agnes Hospital from 1962 until 1978, died Monday of heart failure at Villa St. Michael, the retirement home of the Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg. She was 83.

After stepping down from her positions at St. Agnes, she was director of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine at the order's St. Joseph's Provincial House, also in Emmitsburg, for three years.

During her administration of the hospital, the Paul Dudley White Coronary Care Unit was established.

Dr. Raymond D. Bahr, director of the unit, said that about a month ago, he took Sister Alberta a list of the 500 hospitals that had established chest pain emergency rooms modeled on St. Agnes.

He described her as "a strong administrator and a visionary."

George Moniodis, director of government affairs at St. Agnes, said, "She was a beautiful lady, a great lady widely known in the industry throughout the country for vision and leadership in developing health care programs."

Dr. William Hicken, chairman of the Department of Pathology, said, "Sister's principal concern was providing the best medical care for the St. Agnes community. She was a disciplined administrator but fair-minded and compassionate.

"With Sister, there was no red tape. If you could justify your need to her for a new or improved patient service, you knew you would have her support."

During her administration, the hospital grew from an institution with 367 beds and a staff of 400 to 462 beds and a staff of 2,000.

In recognition of her stewardship, she was made an honorary chief resident by the doctors at the hospital in 1970 and had also been cited for her work by the Maryland Senate, the mayor of Baltimore and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Born Mary Gertrude Beckwith in Milford, Mass., she entered the Daughters of Charity in 1932.

She taught at an elementary school in Albany, N.Y., from 1933 until 1941 when she began training as a nurse at Carney Hospital in Boston. From 1945 until 1952, she was a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., eventually becoming a head nurse and supervisor.

She graduated from St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg in 1952 and earned a master's degree in nursing education at St. Louis University in 1954. The work for the graduate degree included residencies at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., and St. Vincent's Medical Center in New York City.

She was assistant administrator at Sisters Hospital in Waterville, Maine, in 1954 and 1955, then was administrator of the St. John Hospital in Lowell, Mass., until 1956. For six years before coming to St. Agnes, she was administrator of Sisters Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton at the provincial house in Emmitsburg. Wake services were to be held at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. today at Villa St. Michael.

She is survived by a sister, Kathleen Howard of Belcamp.

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