Former AANA President Patricia Lorene (Riley) Fleming Adams, 86, passed away in a skilled nursing facility in Yadkinville, N.C., Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. A native of Frederick County, Va., she was born August 28, 1931, the daughter of the late Lorin Holt Riley and Patty Genevieve (Huddleston) Riley. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Alfred T. Adams, Jr., her sister Anna Charles Riley Johnson, and brother-in-law Daniel Lyle Johnson.
Following graduation from St. Mary’s Medical Center and School of Nursing in Knoxville, Tenn., and Charity Hospital School of Anesthesia in New Orleans, La., as a CRNA, she then worked and retired from Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro, N.C., as their chief nurse anesthetist and head of the Anesthesia Department.
In addition to serving as AANA president-elect in 1981-82 and president in 1982-83, Fleming Adams served on the AANA Board of Directors as director for Region 2 in fiscal year 1979. During her career she served twice as the president of the North Carolina Certified Nurse Anesthetists Association (NCCNA), and on the Advisory Committee of the nurse anesthesia program at Bowman Gray School of Medicine and North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.
During her tenure as AANA president-elect and president, Fleming Adams vigorously promoted, alongside her successor Patrick Downey Jr., and others, the economic and general welfare of its membership and strived to regain leadership among nursing specialty organizations by becoming more actively involved in determining nursing’s future.
Fleming Adams was charged upon her election as AANA president with the mandate of changing the direction of the association, a charge she undertook with zeal and successfully implemented. Both Pats (Fleming Adams, Downey) were responsible for pushing direct reimbursement for nurse anesthetists' services through the U.S. Congress. This action made nurse anesthesia the first nursing specialty/nonphysician group to be accorded direct reimbursement rights under the Medicare program, and ultimately opened the door for direct reimbursement for all nurses. This was truly a ‘big deal’ for the nursing profession. As Fleming Adams said in an AANA Journal editorial in 1986, the year direct reimbursement for CRNAs was passed, "The future is in our hands, not the hands of the physicians. CRNAs will determine the future of nurse anesthesia, not anesthesiologists. We can achieve what we set out to do if we are willing to accept the costs of necessary actions."
Fleming Adams was the first chair of the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists, and played a large role in the Council's initial development. She served as Government Relations Committee chair in 1984, and she was a member of the editorial board of CRNA Forum.
Fleming Adams also received the AANA's highest award, the Agatha Hodgins Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in 1987. In accepting the award Fleming Adams acknowledged the North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists and her CRNA colleagues "who taught me what leadership must be and gave me the opportunity to practice these skills." Named for the founder and first president of the AANA, the Agatha Hodgins Award is presented each year to the individual "whose foremost dedication to excellence has furthered the art and science of nurse anesthesia."
She is survived by one sister, Gertrude Huddleston (Riley) Johnston of Kansas City, Kans.; multiple nieces, nephews and cousins; one daughter Patty Ann Fleming; one son William Samuel Fleming LTC, USA (R), daughter in law Vila Lee Fleming, their sons, Thomas Riley Fleming and William Finnegan Fleming.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held in 2018. She will be buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Winchester, Va. Details will be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers; consider a donation to The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, or to your local Humane Society or the Humane Society of the United States. Online condolences may be made at Gentry Family Funeral Service.