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Eloise Bell (1946-2021): High flying nurse who set up air ambulance service

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Fighting spirit: Eloise Bell (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A “fearless, no-nonsense” emergency room nurse also played a lead role in getting hundreds of patients overseas for treatment through her Bermuda Air Medivac service.

BAM, which Eloise Bell ran with her business partner Sheldon Smith, was credited with saving lives from 2004 to 2013.

The public later rallied around Ms Bell in her battle with bone cancer, when it became her time to need treatment overseas.

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital emergency department staff told The Royal Gazette: “Eloise was known for her no-nonsense attitude, her strong work ethic, and a desire to get the job done.

“She was not afraid to speak up and get to the bottom of things.

“She greatly influenced her colleagues with her fearless attitude and her sense of humour.”

The joint statement by staff said their warm memories of Ms Bell had become part of the departmental legend – along with her swift manner in dealing with bad behaviour in the ED.

Ms Bell trained emergency staff to accompany patients overseas through her medevac business.

She continued to visit the ED after she retired in 2019.

Many patients wrote tributes to the Gazette over the years to thank the air ambulance service, which shut down because of a lack of funding.

Ms Smith was the nurse and Mr Smith was the pilot, with the two also coordinating trips with other services.

One father whose son need treatment said in 2012: “He wouldn’t have lived if it wasn’t for Eloise Bell.”

Ready to fly: Eloise Bell, vice-president and chief flight nurse of Bermuda Air Medevac, with the service’s Cessna Citation S-II jet (File photograph)

She told the Gazette in 2011: “People often express surprise when they see that a woman is running things.

“I think that is why we have problems with the insurance companies.

“They object to a female, a Black female, and a Bermudian. People think, categorically, that a Bermudian can’t do anything.

“When I went to start up the business people said, `You will never get that off the ground’. But I never had any moments of self-doubt.”

H. Lynette Bean, the Bermuda Hospitals Board vice-president of quality and patient safety, said Ms Bell “enjoyed being on the front line more than anything.”

“Working with her as a colleague and each of us being the other’s immediate supervisor during our tenure in emergency was amazing.

“The wealth of knowledge and experience Ms Bell had always made her a go-to person to help problem-solve in the department. She was an asset to BHB.”

Ms Bean said Ms Bell was “a strong, direct and firm person” with “a softer, compassionate, nurturing and creative side” whose enthusiasm ranged from orchids to banana bread.

Norma Smith, the BHB vice-president of clinical operations in acute and ambulatory care, said Ms Bell was “a fierce, extremely competent emergency room nurse”.

Ms Smith added: “No one could clear an accident site of the `looky loos’ or disruptive bystanders like she did.

“Confident and self-assured, she delivered care of the highest standard.

“That same fighting spirit is what has sustained her in recent years with many challenges. I remember her always talking about her daughter Keisha with love and pride.”

Ms Bell is survived by her daughter Lakeisha and granddaughter Jiyai Bell, as well as by brothers Arnold and Irving Minors, among others.

To read tributes to Ms Bell, click on the PDFs under “Related Media”.

· Gertrude Eloise Bell, a veteran emergency room nurse, was born on September 3, 1946. She died in November 2021, aged 75.

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Published December 03, 2021 at 1:36 pm (Updated December 03, 2021 at 1:36 pm)

Eloise Bell (1946-2021): High flying nurse who set up air ambulance service

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