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Margaret (Martin) Roth

March 24, 1920 — January 23, 2023


Margaret Martin-Roth, 102, of Indianapolis, died peacefully January 22, 2023. Margaret was a courageous, compassionate, dedicated, and innovative nursing leader at Riley Hospital for Children, Indianapolis from 1965-1985. She was born March 24, 1920, the only child to the late Arthur A. and Mayme Swiggett Martin in Franklin, Indiana.
Margaret graduated from Franklin High School, and became an RN after graduating from the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing in Indianapolis, 1942. She returned to Franklin and worked in Family Practice with Dr. Walter Protteus, assisting with house calls, medical/surgical procedures and delivering babies from 1942-1952. She helped transport premature infants to Riley Hospital and recalled holding a baby in a small box with blankets and a hot water bottle.
During WWII, Margaret proudly served in the Army Nurse Corps from 1945 -1946 at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
Margaret completed her BSN at Teachers College Columbia University, New York, 1953 and her MSN at Columbia University, NY with a major in Pediatric Nursing and a minor in Nursing Education, 1954. At one point in her clinical studies, she proclaimed “I quit! I can’t do it anymore.” Frustrated that she could not do more for a young girl with cystic fibrosis, she questioned her abilities to deal with such situations and make a difference. Her instructor challenged her, “What makes you think sick children don’t need people who can’t handle it anymore?” Margaret returned to work the next day with a passion for looking through the eyes of each patient and asking herself, “How can I help?” This is the question that guided her life in making a difference.
At a Yale University Course, Margaret was introduced to the concept of Rooming-In, a program for mothers and babies to be together after the birth. Later she was influenced by Dr. John Bowby and his research related to the separation of children and parents in England at the time of WWII. He identified that children were more emotionally stable when they were not sent off to the countryside and could stay with their parents. This began Margaret’s pursuit on a Path for Change.
After serving as an Assistant Professor of Pediatric Nursing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1956-1962, Margaret returned to Indiana and was Assistant Professor of Nursing at DePauw University, Greencastle, 1963-1965.
Margaret joined Riley Hospital at Indiana University in collaboration with Dr. Morris Green, 1965. She was recruited to be the Community Outreach Nurse for the Multidisciplinary Clinic. Having studied Green’s work, she was also motivated to improve the physical and psychological health of young patients and families. She worked with children who had disabilities and coordinated services. She was an Instructor in Pediatrics and Adjunct Associate Professor of Nursing, IU School of Nursing. In 1969, she was promoted to Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine.
One of her greatest gifts to Pediatrics was the Parent Care Unit (PCU). With Dr. Morris Green, Margaret was instrumental in creating the 27 bed Parent Care Unit that was opened at Riley in 1971, the first of its kind to open in the United States. This innovative and progressive care program identified parents as the key players in a child’s life. Rooms were home-like with beds for both the patient and parent(s). It was a perfect design to facilitate children going home from the hospital with special needs. Even siblings were allowed to visit and sometimes stay. Many Newborn ICU grads came to Parent Care to gain weight, or for parents to learn special care needs like tracheostomy care before being on their own at home. The varieties of ages and issues worked as long as the child was safe. Margaret was Unit Director and provided care along with two other nurses and a Unit Secretary. Nursing staff were available from 8AM - 6PM. If parents needed assistance, the ER staff were available and had medical records to assist at night. Margaret helped other hospitals across the country to develop programs. Some nurses in the UK were given scholarships to come to America and study Care By Parent Units.
In 1974, the PCU was functioning well and Margaret was promoted to Chairman of Nursing Services for Riley Hospital. This was another great way to make a difference, and she had an expanded impact on Riley’s philosophy of caring excellence. Margaret recognized and respected the skills of the interdisciplinary team and inspired a collaborative effort. She believed in listening to those closest to the bedside. The common goal of family-centered care and working together to humanize the care environment was imperative in providing quality physical, emotional, and spiritual care.
Margaret retired in 1985, and her legacy lives on. An annual Margaret Martin Roth Nursing Scholarship Award was established to honor nursing staff who skillfully demonstrate patient/family centered care.
In 1990, Margaret married her dear friend, Bice Roth, and they enjoyed seven happy years together before his passing in 1997.
Family and friends would like to thank the Marquette Manor Staff where she was supportively and compassionately cared for the past few years.
Margaret requested not to have a memorial service; however, we can celebrate her life in many ways as we uniquely remember and honor her.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Riley Hospital and the Margaret Martin-Roth Endowment at . Choose tribute and type in the name of the Endowment. Gifts can also be accepted by mail at Riley Children’s Foundation, PO Box 3356, Indianapolis, IN, 46206 with “In memory of Margaret Martin-Roth” in the memo line.

Arrangements entrusted to Aaron Ruben Nelson Mortuary.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Margaret (Martin) Roth, please visit our flower store.


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