In Memoriam: Dr. Virginia K. Saba

Posted in News Story

November 22, 2021 – In the mid-1980s, technology visionary Dr. Virginia K. Saba joined the faculty of Georgetown’s School of Nursing to, as school historian Dr. Alma Woolley wrote, “integrate computers into the curriculum and assist the faculty in using computers in research.”

Dr. Virginia Saba, in front of a 1980s computer terminal and display area, describes her classification system to two people who are seated at the table.
In 1989, Saba highlights the classification system she developed while at Georgetown. (Photo courtesy Woolley)

Saba, who was named a Living Legend of the American Academy of Nursing in 2002, passed away yesterday, according to the American Medical Informatics Association.

“Her influence in nursing informatics sets a high standard for us all,” shared Dr. Susan K. Newbold, secretary of the association’s Nursing Informatics Working Group. “She is loved and respected by many around the world.”

Among her contributions while at Georgetown, Woolley described the Home Health Care Classification Project, one that classified the care provided by nurses in home settings to help inform reimbursement levels.

“[Saba], known for her pioneering work in computers and nursing, obtained a grant for over $700,000 for [the classification project],” Woolley described. “The study used more than 600 home health agencies from every state, the District, and Puerto Rico to gather data from 9,000 patient records to develop a preliminary home health classification system.”

She added, “The database was represented as the largest compilation of pertinent information ever collected on home health agencies and patients. The study produced descriptive assessment data as well as predictive findings for measuring resource requirements.”

Dr. Allan Angerio, an emeritus professor, worked with Saba and remembered her impact on the school.

“When she came to our school, informatics was so new few knew anything about it,” he said. “She helped revolutionize the school and taught informatics, which was quite novel for the time.” Learn more about Saba’s career.

By Bill Cessato