The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 20, 2014

Scholarship for girls in a health science field established at BAF


— In every community there is work to be done and each community member has something to contribute.

Dr. Eileen Catterson has given freely of her training, her concern and her talent. In recognition of these gifts and in an effort to pass the spirit of service forward, the Sister Eileen C. Catterson,  M.D. Scholarship Fund has been established at the Beckley Area Foundation at her direction through The Children’s Healthcare Fund.

Income from this scholarship fund shall be used for need- and merit-based scholarships for college-qualified graduates of high schools in southern West Virginia with preference given to Wyoming County residents.

Recipients must be females pursuing an undergraduate or post graduate degree in a health science field. These students must take a full course load with a minimum 2.0 GPA or C average. The first scholarship will be awarded in the spring of 2015.

Dr. Catterson is a Catholic nun and member of the Daughters of Wisdom congregation based in New York. She was a registered nurse for 10 years and spent time doing missionary work in Malawi, Africa, in the mid-1960s before deciding to go on to medical school.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a pre-med emphasis from St. John’s University, Jamaica, New York, in 1970.

She became a Doctor of Medicine in 1974, earning her degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She completed her Pediatric Residency at the Children’s Hospital of Akron and was licensed to practice in West Virginia in 1977 and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics two years later.

Dr. Catterson first came to West Virginia as a member of the National Health Service Corps. Following her initial assignment in Raleigh County in 1977, she established the Rhodell Pediatric Clinic. In 1985, she established the Pineville Children’s Clinic where, as the only board-certified pediatrician in rural Wyoming County, she provided comprehensive and compassionate care to thousands of patients a year who would otherwise need to travel at least one hour for pediatric services.

 Her office also provided nutrition education for families, and assisted early childhood education initiatives that included area preschool programs. She had special interest in the care of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

A vital part of her community, she was involved in a wide range of social services and programs from the care of handicapped children, to nursing programs, to the Council on Aging.

Students from all three West Virginia schools of medicine and students from physician assistant and nurse practitioner programs have benefited from rotations provided by Dr. Catterson in her clinic. She served for many years on the Headstart Health Advisory Committee in Wyoming County and on the Board of Directors of the McDowell/Wyoming Child Protective Team.

She has been a member of the Raleigh County Medical Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Irish American Pediatric Society and the Federation of State Medical Boards. She served as president of the West Virginia State Board of Medicine and chaired the Department of Pediatrics at Raleigh General Hospital.

She received the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services Community Service Award, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from West Virginia Wesleyan College, the “Pediatrician of the Year” award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, West Virginia Chapter, and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross from Pope Benedict XVI. The latter award is the highest that can be bestowed by the pope on members of the laity or religious community that have advanced the life and mission of the Church.

Sister Eileen Catherine Catterson, M.D., is now retired and living in New York. The naming of the Tug River Catterson Health Clinic in Pineville is a tribute to her 30 years of service.

As in the case of all BAF endowments, anyone may make additional donations in any amount to this scholarship fund. Make checks payable to Beckley Area Foundation with Catterson Scholarship Fund on the memo line; mail to BAF, 129 Main St., Suite 203, Beckley, WV 25801. Call 304-253-3806 or e-mail susan@bafwv.org for additional information.