By Meredith Parker
The Makah Tribe’s Community Health Program is now without its senior employee, Pat Bello, as she retired after 32 years of dedicated service on June 4, 2018.
Pat was hired as a Community Health Representative (CHR) for the Makah Tribe in 1986 by the Health, Education and Welfare director at that time, Julie Johnson. Johnson recalled, “When Pat was first hired as a CHR she provided outstanding home health care services for all elders in Neah Bay. She provided all the health services an LPN would provide and charted such professional follow- up care, so appreciated by our home bound-elders. And could she make the elders laugh!”
The transportation program was budgeted for one trip to Seattle and one trip to Port Angeles each week that she and the late Gerard “Chunky” Ward were driving. Compare that to Pat’s schedule for the last several years where she was kept on the road attending to clients’ medical appointments nearly every day of the week. She transported and assisted in other ways such as when there were only three over-worked and burnt-out Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). She recruited 32 people to attend the EMT class and 23 were certified, much to the delight and relief of the emergency medical team.
Later Bello and the other CHRs were cross-trained so that each one understood the others’ duties and all could fill in for one another. She spent a great deal of time at home visits with elders and at one time carried 32 people on her caseload.
Some of Pat’s fondest memories include traveling with the elders for senior luncheons at Muckleshoot and then on to the Puyallup Fair. In her retirement she’s looking forward to traveling with the Neah Bay Seniors program as they attend senior luncheons and other fun activities.
During her tenure Pat worked under 50+ supervisors and recalled a few with great fondness – Julie Johnson who was a motherly-mentor, Kathy Steinkamp, who encouraged her to spread her wings and Mel Melmed, Pat’s favorite, who was “simply the best!” Pat appreciated that Mel was smart, thorough, fair and so genuinely caring of the staff and the entire community.
Pat was at the forefront for the Makah Tribe’s mammogram clinics, health fairs and blood drives, having been the key organizer for these important events over the years. Her drive and passion ensured that each event came off nothing short of fabulously successful and raised the bar each time so that the following event was even that much better. She received a Community Service Award from the Puget Sound Blood Center for 20 years of volunteerism and saving an estimated 3,500-plus lives.
Pat works tirelessly and has donated countless hundreds of pies to numerous funeral dinners and other community events. She drops by at the homes of elders or visits them at long-term care facilities bringing news from home and sharing photos and home-baked treats. One elder commented, “Pat has good teachings from her grandparents. She is the epitome of a strong Makah woman.” A fond memory of Pat’s is when she spearheaded a group of volunteers to make 100 lap quilts for elders when the Makah Tribe hosted tribal journeys in 2010. She has a long-list of volunteerism within the community and was nominated this last year for the Clallam County Community Service Award.
Ms. Melmed, former Public Health Director for the Neah Bay Indian Health Clinic, remarked, “Pat routinely does extraordinary things for her community and considers it just another normal day. She has assisted her community in so, so many ways, including helping elders stay safely in their homes, baking and gifting pies for community funerals and celebrations, mobilizing drug and suicide prevention events, and assuring access to mammograms and blood donations in Neah Bay.”
Pat was also a member of the PEAK Leadership cohort in 2009-2010. Danille Turissini, co-founder and director recalled: “Pat just has a way about her that makes you feel instantly at ease with her disarming kindness and benevolent wisdom. Her heart of servant leadership is manifested in so many ways; when she’s not serving people directly, she serves them by lifting them up. I especially appreciate the way she serves up lots of good laughs! The gleam she gets in her eye when talking about her service to her tribal elders is priceless.”
Pat is looking forward to spending time with family (her son, her daughter and their families including her nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren) and friends, diversifying the menu at Pat’s Place, travel within the United States and beyond and home-improvement projects. Her dream would be to become a “snowbird” and be in Neah Bay during the summer and enjoying tropical sun during the dark, wet NW winters.
As one chapter ends, another begins, welcome to your new found freedom — congratulations Pat Bello!