Chillicothe, Mo. — Betty Preston Steele recently retired from her position as a member of the Hedrick Medical Center Board of Directors. She had been a member of the Hedrick board for 11 years, serving the past five years as board chairperson. Additionally, she has been a member of the Saint Luke’s Health System Board of Directors since 2015.
Betty was born on a farm northeast of Trenton and attended rural schools, graduating from Trenton High School and furthering her education at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Later, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Education Pedagogy from Northwest Missouri State University. Betty has been a proud citizen of Chillicothe for 35 years. She and her husband Paul have four children, Joe and Jason Preston, Randy Steele, Emily Steele Schneider, and seven grandchildren.
Betty has led a varied professional career. She was a piano teacher for 31 years, in her own studio in Chillicothe and at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. She also traveled worldwide teaching piano lessons as part the Music Teachers National Association.
“Music really is an international language,” said Betty. “I’ve had a lot of music experience locally, nationally, and internationally over the years, but I really find what I’ve done locally is the most fulfilling since this is my home. I still enjoy playing.”
Her second career was at Citizens Bank & Trust where she was the Senior Vice President and Wealth Management financial advisor.
In addition to her professional career, Betty has always focused on community service. She began serving on the Chillicothe R-II Board of Education in 1979 and served as president three times during her three terms. Following her tenure on the local board, she started the Partners in Education program in Chillicothe. In the mid-1990s, Governor Mel Carnahan appointed Betty to the Missouri State Board of Education, where she also served as president during her tenure. She was later appointed to the National Association of State Boards of Education in Alexandria, VA, serving as president, working with all states on their state education agendas and as a national spokesperson for public education.
“Two of the most important elements in a successful community are schools and medical care,” said Betty. “Hedrick Medical Center has played an integral part in the lives of my family and our whole community. I am honored to have served on the Hedrick Board since 2011 and to serve as board chairperson. We are so fortunate to have the partnership with Saint Luke’s Health System, impacting access and quality of care guided by our outstanding physicians, nurses, and administrative staff. Chillicothe has a unique city-health system partnership, and the resulting excellent medical care in a beautiful, modern hospital facility is such an asset to our patients and families.“
Part of Betty’s role on the Saint Luke’s Health System Board of Directors has been to advocate and represent Hedrick and the other Critical Access Hospitals within Saint Luke’s Health System, including sister hospital Wright Memorial Hospital in Trenton.
“The culture, health needs, and care model in rural areas in some cases is much different than that in the metropolitan areas,” said Steve Schieber, CEO, Hedrick Medical Center.” Betty understands that well and has been successful in helping the System Board better understand and appreciate those differences.”
Betty’s most significant contributions, however, have been felt locally at Hedrick Medical Center.
“Betty has truly played a significant role in helping shape health care here in Chillicothe,” said Schieber. “She has always been dedicated to ensuring our patients receive the best care possible right here close to home without having to travel. So many of the programs, services, and philosophies behind how we deliver care have been influenced by Betty and her consistent ambition to see our hospital reach new heights. Her contributions can never fully be measured, and I have no doubt the legacy she leaves behind will continue to inspire my leadership, as well as our employees’ dedication to patient care for years to come.”
“I’ve seen Hedrick accomplish some amazing things over the past 11 years,” said Betty. “Of course, the construction of the new facility in 2014 is one of the highlights. It is a beautiful, extremely functional facility and is a direct result of a great partnership between the City of Chillicothe and Hedrick Medical Center/Saint Luke’s Health System. I’ve also been able to be a part of some amazing new service offerings and programs. The Hedrick Medical Center Foundation, which I am also a board member, was developed in 2014 and has been a great asset for Hedrick and the community. The Foundation raised funds and developed The Gardens at Hedrick, a beautiful space for reflection, relaxation, and exercise for staff, patients, visitors, and the entire community. The Oncology Nurse Navigator program that launched in late 2014 helps so many people when they need it most and is a service I’m very proud Hedrick is able to offer patients.”
Betty’s last board meeting was in December, and she was honored with a plaque presented by Steve Schieber, CEO.
Betty wanted to leave staff with a few last words of inspiration and encouragement. “Although I will no longer be on the board, I will always have a special place in my heart for this exceptional Hedrick team and for the dedicated people on the board who provide governance. The Hedrick team is an amazing team, and whether a family member or I need health care, I would fully trust that care to Hedrick because I know that every staff member I encounter would have my well-being at the top of their list. It’s been an honor to be a small part of that team, and I wish you all well in the future.”Photo Caption: Betty Preston Steele receives an ‘appreciation of service’ plaque from Hedrick Medical Center CEO, Steve Schieber on behalf of the Hedrick Medical Center Board of Trustees. Preston Steele recently retired from her position on the Hedrick board. She served on the board 11 years.
Hedrick Medical Center is a member of Saint Luke's Health System, which consists of 14 area hospitals and several specialty and primary care practices, and provides a range of inpatient, outpatient, and home care services. Founded as a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, our mission includes a commitment to the highest levels of excellence in health care and the advancement of medical research and education. The health system is an aligned organization in which the physicians and hospitals assume responsibility for enhancing the physical, mental, and spiritual health of people in the metropolitan Kansas City area and the surrounding region.