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Called According to His Purpose – Patricia Clare Sullivan Donor Profile


Called According to His Purpose ~ Patricia Clare Sullivan Donor Profile

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”  – Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Hands on~  From her early beginnings— to her decision to join the Sisters of Mercy— to the young nursing students she taught at Mercy School of Nursing— to the leadership she provided as president of Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines, Patricia Clare has always been “hands on.” She understood what it meant to actively put her faith into action, working side-by-side her colleagues and the community, to provide accessible, quality health care to all with compassion.  Patricia Clare’s mantra was and continues to be: “Listen to what God is saying, respond to His call and love all as demonstrated through your actions.”

Health care chose me

As the youngest of four children, Patricia Clare was the first in her family to be born in a hospital, which may have foreshadowed her long and storied health care career. Her father served in World War I and, upon his return, served as the county clerk in Beatrice, Nebraska.  His involvement in county politics and his desire to serve left a lasting impression on a young Patricia Clare.

After high school graduation, Patricia Clare made the prayerful decision to join the Sisters of Mercy.  She was profoundly touched by their mission of caring for the poor, sick and uneducated.   Equipped with a nursing degree, Patricia Clare would serve numerous communities in Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, Iowa and Massachusetts.

The majority of her career would be spent at Mercy – Des Moines where she would serve as an instructor at the (then) Mercy School of Nursing; as the director of the School of Nursing; as a pediatrics’ nursing supervisor at the hospital; and finally, as president of Mercy from 1977-1993.

A period of unparalleled growth

During her tenure as president, Patricia Clare would oversee a period of tremendous growth for the hospital and its Mission affiliates.  “We felt it was important to provide care from the womb to the tomb,” recalled Sullivan.  As a result programs such as House of Mercy, hospice services, respite care for families caring for older adults, and adult day care services were developed and implemented within the community.

Mercy hospital also grew and was regarded as a treasured community resource. Plans for the East Tower  were formulated and the Ruan Neurology Center was established.  One of the first pediatric heart transplants was performed.  “This was a huge undertaking involving many dedicated health care professionals; and, it was also a huge success.  From this experience we developed the Yucatan, Mexico outreach program where teams of Mercy cardiology professionals travel to provide care to children with many of them coming to Mercy for surgery,” said Sullivan.

Even in the midst of heading one of the largest businesses in Iowa, Patricia Clare was well-known for walking the halls of Mercy listening and intuitively sensing the needs of the individuals being served.  It was not uncommon for her to sit with someone or bring them to her office offering encouragement and support. “We are here in service.  We are in God’s house, and I tried to give the best care and provide comfort.  This was  God working through me, “ shared Sullivan.

In honor of service

To honor Patricia Clare’s legacy of both her service to health care and the important role she played in nursing education, Mercy Auxiliary established the Patricia Clare Sullivan Endowed Nursing Scholarship in 2009.  The scholarship is awarded to students studying nursing at Mercy College of Health Sciences who have a demonstrated financial need.

“I am honored to have this scholarship established in my name.  We need nurses to be taught the values of human life and the value of humanity.   It is vital we do not lose the significance of the human touch and the importance of establishing rapport when it comes to caring for our patients.  Each patient must be treated as an individual,” said Sullivan.  “I feel confident the nursing education at Mercy College gives our future nurses these important tools.”

Why I give

True to her giving nature, Patricia Clare made the decision to contribute to the scholarship through the IRA rollover provision. “When serving as the director for the School of Nursing, I had an understanding and appreciation for the students entering the profession of nursing.  Today, I feel it is important as ever to provide a quality nursing education while instilling the values of care and concern.”

The process for making her gift was easy.  “I simply called my financial advisor and arranged for my required annual distribution to be given to Mercy Foundation.  The process is very simple and allows me to help future nurses while not incurring a tax liability.” (For more information on IRA giving, please visit

Hands on

This is the legacy of Patricia Clare Sullivan:    Walking the halls of Mercy and comforting the sick and their families.  Planning Mercy facilities and programs for the future.  Ensuring the education of future nurses.   This is how Patricia Clare has chosen to lead her life—directly, with love, and giving us faith and hope for the future. She has truly answered the Call.



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