Member Pharmacy Practice

ASHP Past President Paul Baumgartner Dies at 93

Kate Traynor Senior Writer, ASHP News Center Published: May 22, 2024

ASHP Past President Paul Baumgartner died April 3, 2024, in Kentucky. He was 93 years old.

Baumgartner led rural hospital pharmacy departments in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky for two decades. After serving as ASHP president in 1974–1975, he became a full-time faculty member at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Pharmacy, filling the newly created position of assistant dean. Baumgartner subsequently worked in the pharmaceutical industry until his retirement in 1993.

“Paul Baumgartner made countless contributions to the profession as a clinician, educator, leader, and role model,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz. “He supported ASHP from his earliest days, providing leadership that helped shape and strengthen the organization and advance pharmacy practice. I greatly appreciated Paul’s friendship, along with his unique insights when I first became involved in ASHP and throughout my career. He was always extremely supportive, and he provided important perspectives into issues facing the profession and ASHP. We remain forever grateful to Paul for his support and dedication to the profession he loved, and for everything he did for ASHP.”

Fred M. Eckel, who succeeded Baumgartner as ASHP president, called him an unassuming person who put others first and who cared deeply about people and the pharmacy profession.

“He was a great mentor as I came into ASHP leadership,” Eckel said. He added that as Baumgartner progressed in his own career, he “never forgot his experience running small hospitals in depressed communities.”

“He used that experience to drive ASHP’s early interest in helping pharmacists in small hospitals thrive,” Eckel said.

Rupert Paul Baumgartner Jr. was born Aug. 6, 1930, in Pennsylvania, to Rupert Paul Baumgartner and Lucy Marguerite (Church) Baumgartner. As a young man, Baumgartner Jr. worked at a local U.S. Steel power plant and then served for two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Baumgartner attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1956 — the same year he became a member of ASHP. After graduating, he began his career at Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio, serving as assistant chief of pharmacy.

In 1957, he was appointed pharmacy director at Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Pennsylvania, and then as pharmacy director at Sharon Hospital in Sharon, Pennsylvania. At the time, Baumgartner was also an actively engaged member of the Western Pennsylvania Society of Hospital Pharmacists.

In 1964, he was appointed director of central pharmacy services for Appalachian Regional Hospitals (ARH) in South Williamson, Kentucky. He ended the year as the newly elected president of the Southern Appalachian Society of Hospital Pharmacists.

While at ARH, Baumgartner coordinated pharmacy services for 10 hospitals and an ambulatory care clinic network in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

David Solomon, who worked at ARH in the 1970s, called Baumgartner a friend, colleague, and mentor — and a pioneer in rural ambulatory healthcare.

“Paul believed the people of Appalachia needed and deserved good healthcare, especially with expanded services provided by pharmacists,” Solomon said. “He was also a very effective collaborator and recruiter of all health professionals, and he was gifted at working with hospital administrators and corporate executives.”

Solomon said Baumgartner oversaw ARH’s implementation of comprehensive pharmacy activities, including inpatient unit-dose dispensing, IV admixture services, patient medication profiles and counseling, and centralized drug information services. He was also instrumental in establishing home care pharmacy consultations and creating rural ambulatory care clinics where pharmacists collaborated with physicians and nurses to manage drug therapy.

Baumgartner left ARH in 1975 after being named assistant dean and associate professor at the UK College of Pharmacy. According to the college, his chief goals as assistant dean were to develop an ambulatory care pharmacy program and to serve as a faculty advisor and leadership mentor to the college’s student pharmacy societies.

Anne Policastri, director of affiliate relations for ASHP and past executive director of the Kentucky Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said Baumgartner influenced her own professional journey.

“He was one of my professors when I went to pharmacy school,” Policastri said. “Professor B. instilled in me a love for pharmacy organizations, which has shaped much of my career.”

ASHP Past President Clifford Hynniman knew Baumgartner through their mutual work with ASHP and as fellow UK College of Pharmacy faculty members.

“Over the years, we had many interactions in relation to ASHP leadership and policy,” Hynniman said. “When Paul attended ASHP business meetings, he was actively involved in the discussions. He was always cheerful, smiling, and enthusiastic, with a positive vision for pharmacy.”

Hynniman said the UK College of Pharmacy benefited from Baumgartner’s experience and his vision for rural healthcare.

“Paul is also fondly remembered from that time as an effective advisor and mentor of students and young practitioners,” Hynniman said.

In 1980, Baumgartner was appointed manager of pharmacy relations for Merck Sharp & Dohme of West Point, Pennsylvania. He retired from the company in 1993 and was honored as an ASHP fellow in 1996.

According to the Baumgartner family, Baumgartner’s many professional honors include: West Virginia Pharmacist of the Year (1973); University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Distinguished Pharmacy Alumnus (1974); ASHP Foundation research awards (1974 and 1975); Phi Delta Chi Mu Chapter Distinguished Pharmacist Award (1982); Temple University Sprowl's Lecture Award (1989); Pennsylvania Society of Hospital Pharmacists Sister Gonzales Lecture Award (1989); Honorary Grand President of Phi Delta Chi (1991); American Pharmacists Association Academy of Students Award (1992); University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy Outstanding Honorary Alumnus (1993); Honorary Doctor of Science, Campbell University (1994); Delaware Valley Society of Hospital Pharmacists Jonathan Roberts Award (1992).

Baumgartner’s survivors include his former wife, Sandra; brother Richard Baumgartner; sister Clare Beckner; children Paul Baumgartner, David Baumgartner, Frances Stoddard, and Kathleen Rajkovich; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Posted May 22, 2024

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