Westfields Hospital honors long-time employeeWestfields Hospital employees and the City of New Richmond honored a long-time Westfields employee on Wednesday, June 20.
By: By Emily Miels, New Richmond News
Westfields Hospital employees and the City of New Richmond honored a long-time Westfields employee on Wednesday, June 20.
At a short ceremony at Westfields, Steve Massey, CEO and president, revealed the updated “Susan St. John Imaging Department” in honor of Susan St. John, radiology manager and a 40-year employee.
“The dedication is personal and deeply emotional,” St. John said. “Naming the imaging department after me has humbled me in a way nothing else ever has.”
Mayor Fred Horne also declared June 20 as “Susan St. John Day” in “recognition and gratitude to Susan St. John for her dedication and commitment to patient care.”
After the ceremony, St. John’s family, friends and co-workers were invited for refreshments in the new imaging department waiting room, which began being redesigned in the spring.
“We made the announcement that we would be honoring Sue in this way in January during a recognition program for staff who had achieved milestone anni-versaries,” Massey said. “
Massey said that the timing for the update was perfect, as it meshed along with their master facility plan for ongoing improvements.
During her 40 years as an employee, St. John has brought numerous improvements to the department, according to her co-workers.
“I think the plaque displayed in the Imaging Department says it all,” said Nancy Buchman, an imaging department technician. “She truly has made it her mission to supply the citizens of New Richmond with the most updated technology and provide quality imaging services for screening and diagnostic purposes.”
According to Linda Olson, another imaging department technician, Westfields started offering mammograms in 1985, before any of the surrounding communities. Olson said St. John brought ultrasound technology to the hospital around 1983 and served as the only ultrasound technician for some time. In 2009, St. John also worked to bring in-house MRI capabilities to the facility.
“Sue always worked to provide imaging services here to our community that were sometimes only available in the Twin Cities, such as mammography,” Olson said.
Co-workers also said St. John has continuously worked to train herself and staff to make sure that patients get the highest level of care available.
“When I started here as a student, Sue took me under her wing, had a chalkboard hauled into her office and proceeded to teach me everything from the physics of X-ray to positioning,” Buchman said. “I learned so much from her that summer and thought, and still think, she is such a smart person.”
Olson said that no matter what they were doing, St. John set high standards and helped her team accomplish them.
“I’ve worked with Sue for over 40 years and she has always expected her technologist to do their very best every single day,” Olson said. “Whether it was something routine or something done infrequently, she always expected excellence.”
Massey said that it is because of St. John’s leadership and experience that the imaging department consistently scores at the top of the scale in patient satisfaction.
“Sue has led the way to bringing state-of-the-art imaging technology to New Richmond and developed her staff to be cross-trained on multiple modalities to meet our patient’s needs,” Massey said. “It’s a great asset for a community hospital to have this level of training among department staff.”
St. John said she attended private school until college and that one of her high school teachers suggested she go into radiology.
“My high school guidance counselor was also my physics teacher and she recommended that I look into the Radiology-Nuclear Medicine program, so I did,” St. John said.
According to St. John, it was because of her job that she met her husband Robert St. John, who she will celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary with in August. She said he was brought into the hospital after hitting his head on a rock while floating down the Apple River.
“Dr. Hanson ordered some X-rays on Bob’s head and two years later we were married,” St. John said.
During her 40 years in the field, St. John said she has watched technology continue to evolve and improve and has enjoyed keeping up with the changes.
“As computers became smaller and faster, so did their application increase in the field of Radiology,” St John said. “I had the honor to ride the tide in this application to the hard science of medical imaging. Radiology has evolved at a light speed pace. Comparing radiology today with radiology in 1971 is like comparing drone fighter technology to a caveman with a club.”