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     Health educator and community leader retires from Rome Memorial Hospital

    For 41 years, Gale Barone, RN, BSN, has had her finger on the pulse of the life of Rome Memorial Hospital and the Rome community as well. Now, the director of education and employee health at the hospital says it’s time to pass on the joys and challenges of her position to the next generation of health care professionals. She retired June 30th.
    During her tenure, Barone has seen the hospital grow both in building size and number of employees, but she says no matter how large it gets the feeling of family at Rome Memorial Hospital remains. That, she said, is one thing she will miss very much.

    Gale Barone retires 
    GALE RETIRES - Gale Barone receives a watercolor painting of Rome Memorial Hospital from Buzz Ariglio, president/CEO on the occasion of her retirement.
    “We are truly a family here, one that is always growing and changing,” Barone said, adding, she has been at the hospital for so long now even the changes are changing.
    From the day she began working as a nurse in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in 1974, Barone found herself on the leading edge of health care. Emerging technologies of the time were greatly changing the way critically ill patients were cared for, and ICU nurses had to constantly keep up with advancement through continued training. As Barone gained knowledge and skill in these new arenas of health care, she quickly found herself in the position of educator for other nurses. As educator, Gale took on the responsibility of orientation for all incoming employees and continuing education for all levels of staff.
    The role of hospital educator evolved as Barone continued to accept new and unique challenges. One of those challenges was promoting health and wellness through patient education and community outreach. Barone introduced the Rome community to Senior Live & Learn Programs, which brought essential health-related information directly to the elderly; monthly Health Night lectures at the hospital on various health topics of interest to the community; assisted the maternity department in the development of quarterly Baby Care Basics seminars and breastfeeding seminars for new parents. She also developed the annual Rome Community Health Fair and an assortment of health and safety programs for children and youth and served as Library Liaison for Circuit Librarian Services through SUNY Health Science Center and later Central New York Library Resources Council.
    “My all time favorite part of my job was coming up with programs for kids,” Barone said. She was the driving force behind such programs as “Safe & Healthy for Summer,” “Smoking is Not Cool,” drug awareness programs and bicycle safety courses, and even assisted the operating room staff in developing a pre-operative program for children facing surgery. In recent years, Barone has played a big part in the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day event, coordinating various informational booths and presentations by hospital departments. Barone is especially proud of the number of young people she helped guide into health careers over the years.
    In addition to her educational jobs, Gale also coordinated volunteers and assisted with public relations for the hospital.
    “Over the years, the hospital administration has been very good about letting people try new things,” Barone said. “Some have turned out well, some not so much, but that’s how you develop new ideas, by having the opportunity to try.”
    Going above and beyond her job, Barone has volunteered countless hours to various community groups and organizations. She has taught numerous classes for the American Heart Association. Barone has also served as chairperson for the education committee of the Rome Chamber of Commerce; was part of the community investment team for the United Way of Rome and Western Oneida County. She was also chairperson of the Coalition for the Health of Oneida County; on the American Heart Association Healthy Heart Coalition; is an American Heart Association instructor for Basic Life Support; has served on the Advisory Board of Madison Oneida County BOCES Nursing Programs and Allied Health Partnership. Barone has also served under several Rome mayors in community health initiatives.
    In 2000, Barone was one of seven women honored in the YWCA’s 12th annual Salute to Outstanding Women of the Mohawk Valley. The Rome Division of the American Heart Association named her Volunteer of the Year from 1995-96; and she was also named SUNY IT Alumni of the Year in 1995.
    Whether in the clinical setting or in her efforts within the community, Barone said the most rewarding aspect of her career was the opportunity to help people. “I strongly believe that to be in health care you have to love people to the point that you are willing to do whatever you have to do to help them,” Barone said. “Some days are very challenging, but you always have to remember that you did something to help.”
    At Rome Memorial Hospital, Gale Barone will long be remembered as someone who always did something to help.