Lots of people showed up at the hospital's annual meeting at the Clarion tonight. They gave a nice chair to Dr. Valerie Vitale, who stepped down as chief of staff. Here's what I wrote about all the praise she got:
BRISTOL -- The hospitals’ new chief of staff, Dr. Kenneth Rhee, M.D., looked over the files on his predecessor, Dr. Valerie Vitale, M.D.
Doing so, he got a little depressed, Rhee said.
“I realized how woefully unfit I am to fill her shoes,” Rhee told the audience at the hospital’s annual meeting Thursday.
Vitale is “the hardest working mom, wife and doctor in
Rhee was just one of several hospital officials to sing Vitale’s praises as she steps down from the position she’s held for four years.
Vitale, said Rhee, is “incredibly bright and energetic.”
She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rhee said, with a degree in chemical engineering and for a time, worked as a chemical engineer.
Vitale then went to medical school, Rhee said, and concentrated on ear, nose and throat work -- a specialty that Rhee said attracts “all the smart ones” because “the human head and neck is very complicated.”
Rhee noted that Vitale managed a medical practice and the duties of chief of staff while raising three kids, sometimes on her own, when her Army surgeon husband was deployed.
Hospital board Chairman Nancy Blanchette said Vitale’s has been a strong voice on behalf of the medical staff.
“She truly has helped to form all that we have done together as a team,” said Blanchette.
Mike Adams, another former board president, said Vitale “worked tirelessly” with medical staff.
“Valerie has always put the hospital needs ahead of her own,” said
Tim Furey, another former hospital board president, said Vitale has “quiet and intelligent ways” in working with the medical staff and provided “invaluable services” to the hospital’s future growth.
“She has already led change that is going to be lasting forever,” said hospital President Kurt Barwis.
Barwis applauded Vitale continuing her leadership role on the Hartford County Medical Society.
“We need people like Dr. Vitale to step up,” said Barwis. “She certainly made a huge difference for us.”
Vitale said she enjoyed her tenure as chief of staff, which included the transition period when Barwis took over as president.
She said she appreciated working with Blanchette and Marie O’Brien, the board’s vice chairman, who “give tirelessly and voluntarily” to the hospital and make a special effort to understand the perspective of the medical staff.