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Former Mercy President, CEO & School of Nursing Director Patricia Clare Sullivan has died

Patricia Clare Sullivan, who served as President and CEO of Des Moines’ longest continually operating hospital — Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines — has died at the age of 89 at The Villages near Orlando, Fla., following a brief illness.

Patricia Clare Sullivan, who loved nursing and all she cared for, served 15 years as president and CEO from 1977 – 1993. She retired in 1993 following a career that included many roles at Mercy – Des Moines, Mercy College of Health Sciences and Mercy Medical Center – Centerville. She continued to serve Mercy as the head of external affairs through 1995.

Under Patricia Clare’s guidance, Mercy grew into a state-of-the-art medical center and one of Iowa’s largest employers. Mercy became a regional referral center and developed a reputation as a leader in many clinical specialties — including heart care. During her tenure, the development of the Mercy Clinics’ system began, a new Bishop Drumm Retirement Center campus was constructed in Johnston, and the House of Mercy opened on Clark Street to provide women in need with housing, education and access to health care in a nurturing and safe environment.   Those who served with Patricia Clare found her to be a tireless leader who was well respected in the Des Moines business community. She worked alongside business leaders to not only develop Mercy, but to improve access to health care and improve the quality of life in Des Moines and surrounding communities. Patricia Clare was elected to the Catholic Health Association board of directors. She also served on many local boards — including Casey’s General Store and the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Among her many recognitions, Patricia Clare was honored with the National Conference of Christians and Jews Leadership Award. She was a member of the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame and was the first woman inducted into the Central Iowa Business Hall of Achievement.

Following her retirement to Florida, Patricia Claire remained dedicated and generous to Mercy College of Health Sciences. In her honor, the Sullivan Center on the Mercy College campus opened in 2005 and serves to educate future nurses, health professionals and leaders. To honor Patricia Clare’s legacy of 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 to help nursing students with financial need.


Prayer Service Celebrating the Life of
Patricia Clare Sullivan

  • Tuesday, February 13 at 12:30 p.m.
  • East Tower Auditorium of Mercy Medical Center’s Main Campus.
  • Mercy Family and the public are all welcome.
  • Light refreshments and conversation with old friends will follow.

A strong advocate for education and service to the poor, her Mercy hospitality often extended to a struggling employee, a hard-working student, or the underserved population. We are grateful to acknowledge her life and contribution.


Should you or someone you know be interested in making a memorial gift, they can be directed to two passionate causes of Patricia Clare, the House of Mercy or the Patricia Clare Sullivan Endowed Scholarship at the Mercy College of Health Sciences. Please click here to make a memorial gift.

1 Comment

  1. Dianne Milnes Clothier on March 22, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    So sorry to hear this. She was a favorite of the Mercy Nurses class of ’66. She will be remembered with admiration, respect and love. Such a wonderful amazing woman

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