Pat Dickey Tribute
In Remembrance of Pat Dickey
I am very honored to share with you some of the highlights of Pat’s career as a dietitian. She loved being a dietitian and her work played a very important role in her life.
On my first day of work at Kalispell Regional hospital, I was supposed to meet a colleague in the long term care unit to begin my training. Quite a period of time went by and no one had arrived. There were many pages over the intercom system for the dietitian and unbeknownst to me, everyone was ill and I was the only dietitian in the entire hospital. Somehow, Pat figured out the situation and arrived on the scene to help me, even though she was not covering the hospital or involved in my training whatsoever. Pat was always there when I needed her.
I had only worked at the hospital for a short time, when I learned about the Brasset Award. At the time, I didn’t realize how prestigious of an honor it was, being the highest award a hospital employee could achieve and how difficult it was to be selected as a finalist. I submitted a nomination for Pat and would like to share portions of the letter I wrote on her behalf (slightly revised):
“It gives me great pleasure to nominate Pat Dickey for the Brasset Award. She makes an exceptional effort to keep current in the field
of dietetics, which is no small task. Pat has developed expertise in a wide variety of areas including pediatrics, nutritional support and oncology. Her innovative presentations during National Nutrition Month included a stint as Carmen Miranda and dressing in a banana costume!
Pat served as the head of the dietary department for thirteen years before going part-time. She spearheaded the annual employee Christmas dinner, which required her to start her day at two in the morning. Pat would work that entire day, stay through the night and not leave until dinner the following day!
I found her work to be exceptionally detailed, accurate and creative. Pat showed time and time again her willingness to walk the extra mile to get the job done right. She demonstrated her leadership skills within our state organization as well. Pat served as president of the Montana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and as the legislative contact for our region, tirelessly promoting legislation to provide food stamp benefits for low income Montanans.
Pat was well liked and highly respected by all of the staff members she interacted with. It was a great privilege for me to work with her and there is no one I admired more. In spite of a multitude of commitments, Pat was the first one to offer assistance whenever it was needed. She was such a special person that our mantra in the dietary department was – “Thank God for Pat”.
I don’t believe Pat ever knew who nominated her and the happy ending to the story was that she received the award and remains the only dietitian to ever have been nominated.
Another time, our full time clinical dietitian left to go back to school and we had considerable difficulty recruiting a replacement. Pat and I covered the hospital, each working a 10 hour and 6 hour shift apiece each week. It wouldn’t be possible today but at the time it sufficed. The difference between us was that her day always started with a 5:30 am workout at the Summit Medical Fitness Center.
Pat was an extremely generous person. For many years she organized the hospitals National Nutrition Month observation and purchased numerous quality prizes for the employees with her own money. Her husband, Dave, probably has no idea how much he contributed to the celebration of National Nutrition Month over the years!
Her intellect and work ethic were unmatched. I always felt if I could remember half of what Pat forgot, I would have a very successful career. One of our recent dietetic interns described her as a legend and her legacy will indeed be one of making the world a better place for her patients, family and colleagues.
I may have been the only person who got away with calling her “Pattycakes” and her sense of humor is one of the things I will miss the most. She informed me that after her fall, the bruising on her face made her look like Foo Man Chu. I treasure the last conversations I had with her, and remember thinking I should look for a George Strait poster to hang in her room when she moved to the rehabilitation unit.
Sadly recovery was not meant to be.
To paraphrase an old saying, “old dietitians never die, they just plate away”. Thanks Pat, for setting the bar so high and demonstrating the tremendous difference one person can make. You were one of a kind, what a privilege it was to work with you and be your friend.
Linda Fredenberg RD LN