Honoring Betty Bell 

When Betty Bell arrived in 1966, she did more than fill a position—she became the first pharmacist on Kaua‘i. She immediately worked to have the pharmacy licensed by the state and hired Filipino and Japanese speakers specifically to translate the English-only medicine instructions for non-English speakers.

“It was quite a change of environment,” Betty said. “I was not accustomed to these medical plans that had been provided to the population by the plantations. The doctor’s offices were directly dispensing medicine. I had to remind the doctors how to write prescriptions again.”  

Soon the community adapted. Next, Betty started to look at the internal workflow. She created a new procedure, called the unit dose system, to increase efficiency and reduce medication errors. Physicians were required to fill out a detailed prescription order that went to the pharmacy, nurses and the billing office. In addition, each patient had a personalized drug profile which outlined what medications they needed.

Another of Betty's innovations was the medicine cart. It held a small tray for each patient which held his or her prescriptions, physician orders and any other important information from the other forms. This new organization saved time and eliminated unnecessary extra checks and questions. “We had carts on each floor and the pharmacy only needed to fill those carts about every three days for the nurse deliveries,” Betty said. It was so successful that it soon became standard procedure for the state pharmacy system in the ‘70s and was even adopted by hospitals across the nation.

From 1975 to 1980, Betty took on a leadership role as CEO for Wilcox. During her time in charge, she created an investment opportunity for Wilcox that also benefited seniors. “We had a problem with patients who could no longer be taken care of by their family and I wanted to find an alternative for the elderly besides institutionalization,” Betty said. She helped transform 9.3 acres behind the medical center into a retirement complex known today as Sun Village.

Wilcox Health Foundation has named Betty Bell the honorary chair of the fundraising campaign to upgrade the Emergency Department and expand trauma services at Wilcox Medical Center.