Dr. Patricia A. Keener

April 6, 1942July 8, 2021
Obituary of Dr. Patricia A.  Keener
On July 8, 2021, despite excellent medical/surgical care, intractable complications of surgery took the life of Patricia A. Keener, M.D., beloved wife, mother, grandmother, friend, physician, teacher, mentor, community advocate, and medical colleague. Patricia Keener knew from childhood that she wanted to become a doctor. She became one of only 15 women in the Indiana University School of Medicine class of 1968, ultimately attaining Alpha Omega Alpha honors. After an internship at Wishard (now Eskenazi) Hospital, she went on to complete her pediatric residency (serving as Chief Resident) at the University of South Carolina. She then returned to the I.U. School of Medicine as the Director of Undergraduate Education in the Department of Pediatrics. She went on to achieve board certification in neonatology, and in 1974, on loan from Riley Pediatrics, she began her 17-year service as Chief of Pediatrics at Community Hospital in Indianapolis. There, among other accomplishments, she established its neonatal intensive care units. In 1980, the tragic death of a nurse friend’s toddler while in the care of a sitter moved Dr. Keener to develop a curriculum to teach first aid, rescue skills, and behavioral understanding of babies and children to middle-school-aged children. This not-for-profit program was founded as Safe Sitter®. Part of its teaching also included certain personal safety and economic competencies and the foundation of future parenting skills. As of 1995, Safe Sitter® was being taught in all 50 states and two other countries (Canada and Great Britain). Nearly a million students have completed the program. In 2001, the Riley Children’s Foundation sponsored her authorship of the book, “Caring for Kids,” and saw to it that several hundred thousand copies were distributed free to physicians and their patients around the State. She also served pivotally as Medical Director and primary organizer of the Indianapolis Campaign for Healthy Babies, which produced important progress in addressing the city’s dismal infant mortality record. As a professor in the I.U. School of Medicine, a passion of Dr. Keener’s was always the mentoring of medical students and promoting their transcultural learning. In this connection, she developed a cultural competency curriculum for medical students that evolved into I.U. School of Medicine’s pioneering Office of Service Learning, setting national patterns and standards for this function. She advocated help and support for the medically underserved, working in partnership with community leaders of those underserved populations. For example, along with other activities, she initiated the Super Shot Saturday program. Dr. Keener received many awards over the span of her career, perhaps most prestigiously Sagamore of the Wabash in 1992. At the time this was the highest honor that could be awarded by the Governor for distinguished service to the State of Indiana. But perhaps most valued by her were the awards given her by medical students and medical classes for her teaching. More tightly than Patricia Keener held those babies that she helped at the hospitals, she held with love her family. For them, she brought to the most everyday things the light and magic of her creative mind. She made everyone around her feel special because she found what was special in each one. She is survived by: her husband of 53 years, Dr. Gerald T. Keener, Jr.; her children, daughter Kristina and husband Larry; daughter Leslie; son Nicholas and wife Jill; her grandchildren, Chase, Trent, and Alexis; and her brother-in-law Thomas and wife Vanessa. She has two godchildren, Brett Wolfsie and AJ Bayt. There are no words for how much she will be missed. A Calling will be held 4-8 p.m., on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at Crown Hill Funeral Home - Remembrance Hall, located in the main building at 700 W. 38th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208 (The corner of W. 38th Street & Clarendon Road). Donations in lieu of flowers should be sent to: the Riley Children’s Foundation for the Dr. Patricia Keener Project, address: 30 South Meridian Street, No. 200, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021