By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | May 04, 2012
Jefferson County Health Center's Chief Executive Officer Deb Cardin will be honored in Des Moines Sunday as one of 100 Great Iowa Nurses.
"Nursing has been very good to me," said Cardin. "I never dreamed I'd be a hospital administrator. It's not something I ever aspired to, but with each new role and position I took on in my career, the challenges became greater. And I don’t back down from a challenge."
Cardin said she's honored to be among Iowa's greatest nurses.
"I would strongly encourage anyone, men and women, to get into nursing because there are so many paths to take," she said.
Her own career is a testament to many paths.
"I’ve been a staff nurse, a charge nurse, worked at Ottumwa Regional Hospital and in an oncology clinic. I've worked for an insurance company and I taught nursing at Indian Hills," she said. "Back then, I would bring my nursing students to Jefferson County Hospital."
Her background information on the Jefferson County Health Center website names her as nursing program director at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa.
"That's how I eventually came to work here. They knew me, and I was called and asked if I would be interested to interview for the director of nursing at Jefferson County Hospital," she said. "I started that job in 1999."
Cardin worked as the chief nurse executive for 10 years and was a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Jefferson County Hospital. She began the CEO position in 2009, leading the facility through a relocation and new building.
Cardin also likes to point out she was born in Jefferson County Hospital and has lived in this area most of her life.
She graduated from Pekin High School and earned a nursing degree at Indian Hills Community College. She’s earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Teikyo Marycrest University, Davenport, and a master’s degree in nursing education administration at LaSalle University.
"How many people get to work at something that touches directly on people's lives?" said Cardin. "I got a great foundation from nursing and the health care industry is ever-changing so it's a continual learning process for all of us."
And even though her job as CEO encompasses many facets of health care and running a facility, Cardin keeps that nurse’s touch in her daily job.
"Each morning, one of the first things I do when I arrive at work, I go see the inpatients," she said. "I like to talk with them and see how they are and let them know we're responsive to their needs."
Each year since 2005, 100 Great Iowa Nurses are honored at a ceremony, created for the state of Iowa, by nurse and community leaders, according to the website www.greatnurses.org. This year's 100 Great Iowa Nurses will be honored at the beginning of Nurses Week at the eighth annual celebration in Des Moines.
Recipients from prior years, including Jefferson County Health Center's vice president of clinical services Joneane Parker and Fairfield school district nurse Mary Hill, are invited back to be recognized and are listed by year on the website. Nurses selected for this honor represent many sectors of health care, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and school and office nurses.