New clinical services nursing director named in Berkeley County

August 13, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - As a nurse, Sandra LeMaster has seen a lot of suffering. As a wife, mother and woman, she has experienced illness on a personal level.

LeMaster, 58, was recently named the nurse director for Clinical Services at the Berkeley County Health Department.

In her office, LeMaster wonders why a newspaper wants to do a story on her. She fidgets at first, modest. Before long, though, she begins talking about her job, her past and her true love - her family.

LeMaster and her husband of 38 years, Larry, have two children, Elizabeth and Christopher. Christopher and his wife Terry have two daughters.


LeMaster met her husband on a blind date at the urging of her twin sister.

Earlier this year, Larry LeMaster was diagnosed with leukemia. He has been undergoing chemotherapy, and his doctors have given them a good prognosis.

Larry LeMaster, who still works 51/2 days a week at Martinsburg Lumber, received what doctors said was his last chemotherapy treatment last week.

"It's just a bump in the road," Sandra LeMaster said. "They're not tears of sadness. They're tears of joy. I don't know a family that God has blessed more than ours."

About a year before her husband was diagnosed, LeMaster herself became ill. She had viral pneumonia with a fever at one point of 104 degrees. At first, doctors said her chance of survival was 25 percent. Three days later, family members were summoned to her bedside for one last visit.

But she triumphed. She finished rehab and was soon back at work. She has been with the health department for eight years, and was acting director for nine months before she was offered the position.

LeMaster, a lifelong Berkeley County resident, graduated from Winchester (Va.) Memorial Hospital's now-defunct three-year nursing program. She has worked at City Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and in a doctor's office.

At the health department, she oversees the center's full- and part-time nurses and the day-to-day operations.

The department offers family planning, breast and cervical cancer screenings to eligible women, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis screenings, a rheumatic fever program and immunizations.

LeMaster said she wants the department to be more visible in the community and hopes to extend the outreach and education program.

"We need to create that confidence with people, that their health department is going to be there for them," she said.

Health Department Administrator Jay Jack said LeMaster is a valuable addition to the department.

"Sandy has her heart in public health," he said. "With public health, you're definitely not in it for the money. You have to be dedicated to providing these services."

Outside of work, LeMaster is the parish nurse at her church, Hedgesville United Methodist, and is on the church's administrative board and worship committee. She was a former chair of the nursing section of the state Public Health Association, and serves as the secretary. The chair of the Advisory Committee for Panhandle Home Health, she also represents the health department on City Hospital's Infection Control Board.

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