Patricia Sodomka (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

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AUGUSTA, Ga. - A healthcare professional for 38 years, she became internationally known for her work in patient and family centered care. She was a kind, caring, compassionate, dedicated soul who had a ready smile and soft shoulder to lean on. She was involved in many professional, civic and church groups. Pat, who has made Augusta her home for 23 years, had three great passions: her family, her faith and patient and family centered care. Though she became known for her professional work, her greatest pride came from watching her daughter, Mary Ellen Lewis, and her son, Michael, growing up to be competent, caring young adults. When talking about them, her face would light up with a radiant smile and she'd say, "They've got good hearts, don't you think?" And she was right; they do. They learned that from their mother, who had a heart as big as anything. When Mary Ellen started having children of her own, Pat relished taking on the role of grandmother. She couldn't get enough of Caroline, 5; Isaac, 3; Anna, nearly 2; and Patrick, 4 months. She would slip up to New York City whenever her business travels got her within 500 miles of the grandchildren. Pat delighted in Michael's academic achievements at Augusta Preparatory Day School. In middle school she loved watching him run cross country and track. And she has enjoyed watching him perform in the drama program. She watched him appear in every production since he played Long John Silver in an 8th grade performance of "Treasure Island." She also loved listening to him sing in the chorus and on stage. When he sang "Shanendoah" to her over the Christmas holidays it moved her to tears. Though she grew up a Roman Catholic, Pat found a spiritual home at Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, after she married Dennis Sodomka. She is a member of the church council and chair of the Witness Committee. She marveled at how lucky she was to find two great pastors there, first Paulwyn Boliek, who performed her marriage ceremony in the church, and then his successor, David B. Hunter Sr., who became a special friend. His friendship and spiritual leadership meant a great deal to Pat. She loved listening to Pastor Hunter's sermons, often feeling that no matter how difficult the theological concept, he would explain it in ways that we all could understand. She also loved the feeling that people hearing the sermons felt like they were aimed directly at each of them. Another great joy was getting in spirited discussions in the pastor's Sunday School class. Pat usually would sit back, thinking, and then quietly asking a question or making a comment that left the rest of the class marveling at her insight. Pat fully embraced the Lutheran concept of grace through faith, that grace is a gift from God freely given to all, whether you choose to accept it or not. She understood that the meaningful action comes from God, not from us. We are all sinners and don't earn our way into heaven. But God's grace, delivered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, pays our debt and frees us from the pain of death. As Pat valiantly fought her final battle with cancer last week, friends and family gathered at the hospital to offer encouragement and tell stories about her. One of the overriding themes that came through in all aspects of her life was that she was completely genuine. She never stopped to think about what was politically correct, or what someone might think she should do. She just did what she knew was right. Pat was born in Akron, Ohio, Feb. 17, 1950. Her mother, Mary Ella Kane was killed in a car accident when she was a young child. Her father, James Arthur Kane, lived in Akron the rest of his life until he died a few years ago. She spent two years at Notre Dame College for Women, and graduated with a physical therapy degree from The Ohio State University in 1972. She was an outstanding student, and her father often joked that she should stop getting so many A's because the boys needed them more than she did. Her father absolutely doted on her. She started work as a physical therapist at Lutheran Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. She went back to Ohio State to earn a Master of Science in Hospital and Health Services Administration in 1978. That led to jobs at The Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus. From there she moved to Tampa General Hospital, in Tampa, Fla. as vice president, Clinical/Support Services. In 1987 she moved to Augusta to become associate director, operations for Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics. She later became administrator of MCG's Children's Medical Center. She was proud of her work in getting that facility built. It is now considered one of the best in the country. Pat became acting executive director of the MCG Hospital in 1994, and executive director in 1995. In 2000 MCG reorganized and spun off MCG Health, Inc., as an independent organization with a new operating structure. Pat became executive vice president and chief operating officer of MCG Health, Inc. Since 2004 she has held dual positions of senior vice president for patient and family centered care, MCG Health, Inc., and director, center for patient and family centered care, Medical College of Georgia. Pat has received dozens of awards and served on numerous boards on the local, state and national level. Among her most treasured awards is the Women of Excellence Award in Health Care from the Girl Scouts in 2001; the distinguished alumna award in health services management from The Ohio State University; and the Georgia Hospital Association's Hospital Heroes Award, 2010. She recently was awarded a 3-year, $1.2 million outcomes research grant involving patient-centered electronic personal health records, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Locally she chaired the United Way of the CSRA, co-chaired the heart walk for the American Heart Association, was a board member of the CSRA Partnership for Community Health, honorary chair of the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk, participant in Leadership Augusta and Leadership Georgia, board member of Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, board member of March of Dimes and a member of the Downtown Evening Optimists Club. She and her husband Dennis felt they had found the perfect mates. They shared many interests such as travel, a love of the arts, literature, history and a love of the outdoors. One of her favorite places in the world was sitting on the dock at her home on Clarks Hill Lake. She would look at the sunlight dancing on the water and say to whoever was nearby, "Look at my diamonds. Aren't they beautiful." She will leave a deep hole in many hearts, but the family is grateful that her long struggle is over and she will be at peace with her Lord. She is survived by her husband Dennis; son Michael, daughter Mary Ellen Lewis (Todd), and their four children; brothers, Michael (Gail) Kane, Jim, Tom; half brothers Bob and Steve, and numerous nieces and nephews. Visitation will be at Thomas Poteet & Son, 214 Davis Rd., Augusta, 3-5 p.m. Sunday. The funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 825 Broad St., Augusta, the Rev. David B. Hunter Jr. officiating. Interment will be private. Pall bearers will be Clint Bryant, Allen Dean, Kathleen Grant, Sandy Hobbs, Steve Hobbs and Sandra McVicker. Honorary pall bearers will be the Pastor's Sunday School Class at Resurrection Church, MCG Health Partners and the Ten Club. Memorials may be made to the Patricia Sodomka Educational Endowment at the Office of Philanthropy and Partnership at MCG Health, Inc., 1120 15th St., BA-8219, Augusta, GA, 30912; or the Patricia Sodomka Resource Center at the MCG Cancer Center (same address in the Office of Philanthropy and Partnership), or the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 825 Broad St., Augusta, GA, 30901. The family wants to express its gratitude for the large number of friends and people who knew Pat who have expressed their support and love. We are overwhelmed by your kindness. But we also are grateful that you were able to experience the same loving, caring, compassionate and brilliant woman we all knew and loved. Her spirit will live on in all of us. For more information on her remarkable life, visit MCGHealth.org and look for the Care Pages and then look for Patricia Sodomka. Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors, 214 Davis Rd., Augusta, GA 30907 (706) 364-8484. Please sign the guestbook at www. thomaspoteet.com.

The Augusta Chronicle-February 20, 2010


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