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Helen McGowan-Gardner of Mattapoisett wins Alumni Achievement Award

NEWPORT, R.I. – Helen Shea McGowan-Gardner of Mattapoisett, Mass., a pioneer in the early research on AIDS and the development of critical care for AIDS patients at the local, regional and national levels, was named an Alumni Achievement Award winner during Salve Regina University’s recent reunion weekend celebration. She is a 1962 Salve Regina graduate.

As a certified infection control practitioner and director of infection control, McGowan-Gardner embodies many tenets of the corporal works of Mercy, evidenced by the fact that she was the first nursing professional to make a home visit to an AIDS patient in southeastern Massachusetts. This was at a time when AIDS was a frightening new disease.

She has presented and published research findings pertaining to nursing care for those afflicted with the illness and also conducted research with nursing faculty at the University of Massachusetts, presenting their findings, titled “AIDS and Nursing Care: A Collaborative Research Model,” at the New England Organization for Nursing. In addition, she served as president, past president, secretary and member of the board of directors of the Association Professionals of Infection Control, New England.

McGowan-Gardner has distinguished herself through significant contributions to the Salve community, serving as an active member on the Nursing Alumni Council for several years, participating in fundraising Phonathons and other donor solicitation efforts, and volunteering as a class representative for the Class of 1962. She continues to serve on reunion planning committees.

McGowan-Gardner looks back at her years at Salve and is quick to note three important points regarding her education. “First, attitudes are communicated – and significantly affect nursing care. Second, care is holistic, and includes the body, mind and spirit. And finally, learning is continuous and interrelated.”

She cites her greatest source of pride has been in raising her four children: Paul, Timothy, Mary Kate and Deirdre.