CEDAR RAPIDS — Betty Lord-Dinan likes to joke that as the oldest of nine children she’s been a caregiver her entire life.
“My mom had twins when I was three years old and I would hold one while she nursed the other,” Lord-Dinan says.
At 12, she began taking care of other families and went to work as a nurse aide in May 1957 after graduating from high school in Panama in southwest Iowa.
“I’ve just always been a caretaker and found that was a role that was very satisfying,” she said.
Now, after 60 years as a nurse, Lord-Dinan has been recognized for her efforts and leadership, especially in long-term care and public policy advocacy.
The Elkader nurse was inducted into the Iowa Nurses Association Hall of Fame on Oct. 20 for her “long-standing dedication to INA public policy and legislative advocacy.” Since 2008, Lord-Dinan has lobbied for the association at the Iowa Legislature.
“She taught many of us to recognize that ‘legislators are people, too’ and should be approached as individuals who are trying to do their job in the best way possible,” according to her nomination by Sue Whitty and Lynn Boes of the INA. “She taught nurses that legislative advocacy is really a continuation of the nursing process and utilizes the skills we use every day in our nursing jobs.”
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After graduating from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Council Bluffs, she married and had four daughters. Her first husband, Glenn, was in the Navy and she moved around with him, holding charge nurse and leadership positions in Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Virginia. Lord-Dinan worked in most nursing specialties in acute hospital settings and public health. She also served on the professional standards review organizations and participated in conducting medical reviews.
Twice a cancer survivor, Lord-Dinan’s essay on dealing with cancer was published in the America Journal of Nursing. She also has written about alcoholism in nursing homes and how to lobby lawmakers in pieces for professional journals.
In 1989, she and her husband returned to Iowa. He died five years later. Lord-Dinan continued her work advocating for older Iowans. She helped establish an Alzheimer’s unit in Elkhorn and later worked for 10 years as director of nursing at Aase Haugen Homes in Decorah.
Now 77, Lord-Dinan has retired, “but I’m not going to sit home and do nothing.”
She and her husband, Dick Dinan, a farmer, are involved in local politics and advocate for greater mental health services. The couple was married in 2003. Lord-Dinan continues to stay in touch with legislators, and advocates for clean air and water, better health care and encouraging women to live healthy lifestyles.
She also is a volunteer at Central Community Hospital in Elkader, where she and her husband live.
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