Sally Kelly, Class of 1964 was honored this weekend and she was inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. Sally attended Allen Memorial Hospital Lutheran School of Nursing even though she never really wanted to be a nurse. Her mother encouraged her to attend, and she only agreed to it because it was close to home. The entire first year of school, Sally tried to move home each Friday, but her mother sent her back every Sunday. After the first year of classes, the nursing students began actually working with patients, Sally got so hooked on the fun, rewarding, and sacred work, that 54 years later – she can’t quit. Sally went on to achieve her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Coe College in 1973, and her Masters of Science in Administration from the University of Notre Dame in 1991.
After her graduation in 1964, she went to work at Cook County Hospital in the pediatrics department in Chicago, Illinois, later becoming the head nurse of that department. Following Cook County, she worked at Hennepin County Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota before being recruited back to Allen to teach pediatrics. In addition to her many years of teaching at Allen, Sally also taught at St. Luke’s School of Nursing in Cedar Rapids, Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, and Mount Mercy College. Sally worked for People’s Community Health Clinic in Waterloo as the Clinic Coordinator for 5 years before returning to Allen Hospital in 1983 where she stayed until 2008. She held roles as the Nurse Manager for Pediatrics, Nurse Manager of Home Health, and as the Patient Relations Coordinator. She then served as adjunct faculty at Allen College from 2008 to 2015. Sally says that she has worked in many hospitals, and taught in many nursing education institutions, but that Allen School of Nursing & Allen College has had the highest standards of any. She is fortunate that it was so close to her home.
In addition to her impressive career, Sally offers her time to the community in many ways. She has worked with the Missionary of Charity (Mother Theresa of Calcutta), in Haiti at a hospital for the dying as well as an orphanage hospital, has held positions on Parish Council for St. Mary’s Parish/Queen of Peace, is involved in Pro-Life and Parish Community Services, volunteered at the Jubilee Clinic in Waterloo, worked on various Notre Dame Alumni Club Community Service projects, is a Eucharistic Minister for Allen Hospital and Country View Care Center, has presented numerous Continuing Education Programs, is a training volunteer for Love INC (In the Name of Christ), and currently serves on the board for the Salvation Army. And to this day, she is the school nurse and volunteer for Columbus Catholic High School.
One of Sally’s dear friends and classmates says, “I met Sally 57 years ago, and I have not met a nurse with more integrity, love and nursing skill than Sally. The impact she has had and continues to have on patients, their families, nursing students, medical staff, and others is astounding. I admire her living out her personal faith as she cares for the least, the last and the lost.” She goes on to say, “The person Sally would give the most credit for her nursing career is her mom! I know Sally would say her mom should be in the Hall of Fame.”
Sally has a strong philosophy on nursing. She notes, “Nurses must maintain the belief that it is our privilege to care for the sick and their families. Our life work enables us to live through the gospel... and we are so blessed! Nursing faculty have a great responsibility to provide students with knowledge and skills for critical thinking and the ability to utilize the nursing process. We must recognize the need to create a safe and receptive environment for this learning to take place. Teaching and learning can, and should be, both a challenge and a joy. Nursing is more than a job, more than a career. It is SACRED WORK, and so rewarding, and so much fun.”
Sally also says, “Nursing is my opium. And this is why I always wear my Allen Nursing Cap when I am serving God in Nursing. I do it for gratitude, and to honor my mother.”