Dr. Bettie Ann Cleino
Bettie Ann Cleino knew she wanted to be a nurse at age 13. Feeling helpless as she watched her little sister dying of pneumonia, Bettie Anne realized that she wanted to learn what to do when faced with illness. She was determined to learn all there was to know about providing the kind of care that would make a real difference. With a nursing career spanning over 65 years, not only did she accomplish her goal, she exceeded it. With her vision of the roles that nurses could and should fill, she has served as a mentor and role model to many. One of the first nurses in Alabama to earn a PhD, Bettie Ann is certainly not your average registered nurse and has always been “ahead of her time”. As early as 1965 she saw the need to provide community-based care for veterans and training for health care professionals working with cognitively impaired elders. She was Executive Director of the West Alabama Comprehensive Health Planning Agency long before many recognized the need for regional health planning. In the 1970s, with the availability of government funding, she spearheaded the efforts to develop the West Alabama Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system, a coordinated system of emergency care. Armed with a wealth of knowledge, talents, and a determined spirit, she brought the right people together to change the health care system for the better. Bettie Ann saw the need for the coordination of care for individuals and volunteered tirelessly to provide comprehensive case management services to seniors. Even in retirement she continues to serve as volunteer parish nurse at Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa, providing case management services for elderly parishioners and their families. Dr. Cleino’s name will always be synonymous with trail blazer.