Remembering Carole DeMille

Carole DeMille served as APIC president from 1975-76. One of APIC’s visionary founders, she later became an internationally recognized authority in the developing field of hospital infection control. She passed away in 1979, but her vision lives on in the work of infection preventionists and front-line care teams throughout the world. In 1980, APIC established an award in her honor. Learn more about past recipients. Below, past presidents reflect on Carole DeMille and her contribution to the infection prevention field. 

Patricia Lynch:

“I was inspired by her, laughed with her, got kicked into gear by her. Carole was unstoppable, inventive and wildly fun to work with. One night after a long day of an APIC Board meeting we were tired and discouraged. We couldn’t afford elections AND a conference so we would all have to re-up for another year; also, we were eating burgers from McDonald’s—again—and bedtime was too far off. Carole made us stop what we were working on and develop a budget for $100,000, a sum well beyond what we had even dreamed about. She made us do it! We were absolutely energized by the budget exercise and our vision improved immediately. Carole was like that. Long after she passed on, her influence still flowed through us.”

George Counts:

“I first joined the APIC board in 1977, which was then under the leadership of Carole DeMille. Aside from her enormous fund of knowledge about infection control and hospitals, Carole had impressive leadership skills. She had the ability to interact with persons, make them comfortable, and make them willing to follow her. She could also laugh at circumstances and at herself. I was very pleased when APIC decided to honor her memory by establishing in her name its highest award. She represented a level of professionalism toward which all of us could properly aim.” 

Cathryn Murphy:
“Rather than try and condense the enormous respect, affection and commitment I feel for APIC and its members I would prefer to submit this poem dedicated to Carole DeMille as the closing part of my 2010 presidential address. It tells far better than I could how Carole’s vision for the organization has grown to be the organization so loved by us all.”

So Carole 

I’ve told you lots of stories, I’ve shared my biggest fears,
I’ve done it with great pride but I’m holding back the tears
You now know about your APIC, the one you helped us build.
You’ve heard about its growth, you know it leads the field;
I wonder how you find us? I wonder are you proud?
Should we bask a while in sunlight or cower under cloud?
Have we carried on your passion, your integrity, your direction?
Have we honoured your intention, your vision and your perfection?
Have we been relentless, successful and courageous?
How do you really find us?  Well intended or outrageous?
Have we made preventing infection appealing, perhaps inviting
Would it still attract you, would it be exciting?
Whatever your answer, whatever your view
On behalf of APIC, its members and its crew,
Let, me say it loudly
Carole DeMille rest well, we miss you, and
Thank you

Barbara Russell:
“I was very fortunate to know Carole DeMille and believe many of her traits rubbed off on me. She even visited us in South Florida. I remember saying to myself, I want to be like her some day and that made it very special when I received the Carole DeMille Award in 2002.”

Lorraine Harkavy:
“Carole DeMille was a warm, kind person. I never saw Carole when she didn’t have a smile on her face. She was passionate about infection control and prevention and had every patient on her mind and the importance of protecting them and the staff…. When I started in infection control, I contacted Carole for advice and guidance. She was always willing to help and was gracious to share her time and knowledge. Along the way, we always took our work seriously, but not ourselves. So we had a few good laughs at ourselves when we realized we were still learning and always would be.”