WESTON, W.Va. – Mon Health Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital (SJMH) Radiology Director Brenda Tonkin, R.T. (R), has seen tremendous changes in healthcare over the past 44 years since beginning her career in the Radiology Department.
She has seen the technology go from x-ray hard films to digital imaging, but on January 1, she took off her lead apron and retired.
In retrospect she knows that her work has made a real difference in the lives of her patients. She is proud that her Department kept pace with the times leading her 18 employees for the past 34 years as Director. Ultimately, the improvements in the department’s technology improved the care for SJMH patients.
“I have seen many, many technical changes in the field,” explained Brenda. “I am happy that I could guide the department through all those changes, and together with the blessing of Administration, we have kept our technology current.”
Tonkin is beloved by her staff, who honored her several years ago with a video and noted, “Brenda is loved and respected by her staff…she is like a mother who keeps us in line. She is a very caring person who goes above and beyond what is required for a department head. She shows great interest for her staff outside the clinical environment. They in turn want her to know that she is the best boss they could ever ask for. Brenda is the heart and soul of the Radiology Department and we are grateful and humbled to work with her.”
Her assistant department manager Richard D. Thomason R.T. (R) (MR) was equally complimentary and noted, “Working with Brenda Tonkin has been a great honor. She is one of the nicest people I have ever known. Her dedication to the community, hospital and her staff is exemplary. Brenda feels more like family than a boss and she will be greatly missed. I wish her nothing but the best because she surely does deserve it.”
Brenda’s training in the radiology field started at the former Union Protestant Hospital (United Hospital Center) when she received her radiology technician degree. During her long career she also trained on the job in ultrasound and nuclear medicine at SJMH.
When Brenda started her SJMH career in 1976, there was a small staff and six radiology students to help. She was on-call in the evenings/night and would drive from Clarksburg if the need for an X-ray arose. In the 1980s, tele-radiography came into use which entailed taking a picture of the x-ray hard copy and transmitting it to another site. Today, when the “pictures” are taken they are transmitted digitally in teleradiology – a much quicker process.
She has seen so many advancements in the care SJMH provides patients including the creation of a mammography department. The mammography field has grown dramatically with one employee dedicated to testing and the department is now accredited. Another improvement was implementing the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment, which was at first a mobile unit coming in periodically. Now the department has a stationary unit beside the Emergency Department.
All of these improvements in the department have improved the care given to patients.
Brenda is a Clarksburg native, the daughter of the late Guy and Anna Romeo. She has three children and two daughters-in-law – Anthony and Trisha Rome, Jeb and Abbey Hathaway Tonkin, and the late Pete Rome. She is the very proud grandmother of Gracie and Nickolas Rome.