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Carl Deal always knew helping people was his calling

April 15, 2019

A summer job as a teenager led Carl Deal on his life’s path of taking care of people.

Carl Deal, Salisbury, started his career journey in 1971 at age 16 at Meyersdale Community Hospital on a summer youth corps program.

“I immediately enjoyed the atmosphere of working in the hospital,” he said.

On weekends and every moment he wasn’t in high school, Deal worked in the laundry department under Decker Saylor. After graduating from Salisbury-Elk Lick High School, he became employed full time as an orderly, which is now considered a nurse’s aide.

“Taking care of those in need was my call,” he said. “I was so welcomed by all the staff on the nursing floor. Everyone was helpful in helping me learn this role. Mary Lou Miller, Carol Blubaugh and Betty Crayne (all registered nurses) were especially instrumental in my pursuing my nursing career. They would consistently encourage me to go to nursing school. Thus the journey begins.”

Deal started by attending the Somerset licensed practical nurse program.

“The first day I knew this was exactly what I wanted. The program was both challenging and empowering. I just knew this is me,” he said.

After graduating, he returned to Meyersdale hospital as a licensed practical nurse.

He worked in all areas of the hospital, including med-surgery, emergency room, obstetrics and intensive care, for the next seven years.

“I hungered to learn more and expand my knowledge. It was with much encouragement from my co-workers I attended Shadyside Hospital School of Nursing in Pittsburgh to obtain my RN.

This was truly a life-changing endeavor in my career.”

He returned to Meyersdale as a registered nurse and was awarded the position of 3 to 11 p.m. shift charge nurse. Deal also taught part time at the Somerset LPN program.

Deal said he was never intimidated by going into a traditionally female career.

“I know nursing was a gift given to me,” he said. “I feel blessed to have recognized and pursued nursing when there were few males in the position. I always knew it was where I was meant to be.”

After five years, he took a job in the adult intensive care unit at Memorial Hospital in Cumberland, Maryland. While there, Deal earned his critical care registered nurse status. He then took classes at Carlow University in Pittsburgh to complete his Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. He became the medical administrator when a state prison came to Cumberland.

“This was most eye opening to an entirely different focus of care and job function,” Deal said. “It gave me great knowledge in the administrative world. However, my calling was clearly in critical care.”

He began working at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, in the open heart unit (cardio thoracic unit). He started doing charge nurse shifts and became the interim manager. He was awarded the nurse educator/preceptor position in the Cardiovascular Unit Intensive Care Unit his last two years at Ruby.

“During my time at Ruby hospital, my hallmark experiences were being recognized by the WVU School of Nursing (2000) as clinical preceptor for undergraduate students,” he said. “In 2002, I received a national award given by AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses) as clinical preceptor of the year.

“The award close to my heart was when our CNO (chief nursing officer) at the annual awards banquet announced and awarded me the Forces of Magnetism Award in 2015. She independently chooses that recipient from all the nurses on staff.

“It was like a Grammy event. They have a life-sized poster of you.”

Meanwhile, Deal went on two mission trips to Malawi in Africa to work at Compassionate Missions Center Clinic, a walk-in clinic.

“It was a challenge because few to no one speaks English,” he said. “We’d see 60 people in one day. They would line up in a dirt field and wait. It was a life-changing event that I’d like to do one more time.”

Right before he left Ruby in September because his family needed him, Deal was chosen as one of the 40/40 recipients — 40 nurses with at least 40 years of experience — in the state of West Virginia.

Deal feels that his nursing career has enabled him to also excel in his personal life. He took care of his uncle, dad and aunt while they were ill.

“I don’t know that I could have walked that journey in my personal life without my career to help me,” he said. “Nursing is an art — it can be a job or a calling. If you think of it as a calling, you will excel.”

Now Deal is back at Meyersdale hospital.

“With much thought of what was going to be my closing chapter of this amazing career that has been a blessing in so many different ways, I decided I wanted to end where I began,” Deal said. “So I returned to my roots and will complete my circle of nursing at Meyersdale Medical Center.

“When I walk those halls, so many fond memories rush through my mind and make me smile and give thanks for each moment spent here, knowing my foundation was built right here. When I walk into the lobby and see Carol and Betty once more still part of the hospital (as volunteers), it warms my heart. The words I still hear are: ‘You need to go finish your RN.’ Taking this advice has filled my life with countless experiences and joy. Thanks to each of you for your encouragement and belief in me to move forward.”

Crayne agrees that sending Deal on this career journey was the right thing to do.

“Carl has been kind to patients and employees, but his number one priority has always been family,” she said. “I remember one time I was saying about Mountain Laurel and how I loved it. Carl and Rick (Farner) came with Mountain Laurel they dug up in the woods and planted it for me. I think of him every time it blooms.

“Carl may be short in stature, but he is tall as a man,” she added. “He’s such a good person.”