January 20, 2011
Hospital manager closes picture-perfect career
Director of medical imaging, cardiology services has worked 42 years at CRMC
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Rosemary Barletta retired Jan. 14 as the director of imaging and cardiology services after 42 years at Cortland Regional Medical Center. She began at the hospital in 1968, when she was 19, as an X-ray technician.
Rosemary Barletta walked into Cortland Regional Medical Center in 1968 as a 19-year-old X-ray technician with an associate degree and a $2.50 per hour wage.
Last week, after 42 years, the 62-year-old retired from the hospital as the director of medical imaging and cardiology services, where she managed 69 employees and 13 budgets.
A lot of memories and nostalgia are created in 42 years, she said.
“When I walked in here my first year, I said to myself, ‘This is a rinky-dink town. I’ll be out of here in a year,’” said Barletta, originally from Endicott.
“But then I realized what kind of people work here and I knew I would never leave. It’s the best family anyone could ever hope for.”
As she reminisced about her time at the medical center, Barletta seemed to get misty-eyed.
Over the years, she watched her department grow from only three to 69 employees.
The department she entered was much different than the one she leaves, with technological advances revolutionizing radiology and other medical fields.
Since Barletta started, the hospital has added new ultrasound and mammography machines, CT scanners, MRIs, nuclear medicine, cardiac rehabilitation and the cardiology department.
“The only thing that was here when I started was X-ray,” she said. “It’s amazing the way things have changed over the years.”
She laughed when remembering how the technicians used to develop X-rays on film and hang them to dry like laundry on a clothesline.
“It’s all digitized now,” she said.
As an X-ray technician, she would hand-draw ultrasound images of unborn babies from sound waves.
Now, the hospital can do 3-D and 4-D ultrasound images that show a baby’s features and movement inside the womb in real time.
“You can see a baby yawn,” Barletta said. “If a baby crinkles its nose, you see it. It’s a different era from when I started.”
Almost 40 years ago, a radiologist in her department, Dr. Lee Ambrose, encouraged her to go back to school for certification in nuclear medicine and ultrasound so she could work with those specialties at the hospital.
Later, she received a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Cortland and a master’s from Le Moyne.
“The nicest part of my career was that the hospital encourages promoting from within, supports continuing education and prides itself on state of the art equipment,” Barletta said.
While it is hard for her to leave, Barletta said it was time for her to move on.
“I accomplished everything I could accomplish here,” she said. “It was really hard for me to leave on my last day. It was quite a ride.”
She met her husband, Gary, at the hospital 30 years ago, when he started as a technical aide.
She taught him about nuclear medicine and five years later they got married.
Barletta said she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren and help her husband with their business, Long Point Winery, which opened in 1999.
At the hospital, Karen Haier and Tracy McWilliams will assume Barletta’s responsibilities in imaging and cardiology respectively.
The technicians who worked for Barletta said they were sad she was leaving.
“She was very loyal to the hospital,” said Julie Prunier, a radiology technician who has worked with Barletta for five years. “She worked here for a long time and always put patients first. She will be missed around here.”
Becca Smith, another radiology technician, agreed.
“She was the type of boss that you could go to with anything,” Smith said. “She was the best boss you could ask for.”
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