Josephine T. Bartola (December 27, 2007)
JOSEPHINE T. BARTOLA, of Chesterbrook on Dec. 27. Beloved sister of: Peter (Violet); many nieces and nephews. Relatives and friends are invited to attend the Funeral Service at 11 A.M. on Sat., Dec 29 at ALLEVA FUNERAL HOME, 1724 East Lancaster Ave., Paoli PA 19301. Interment Calvary Cem, W. Conshohocken. Visitation 10 to 11 A.M. in the funeral home prior to the service. Memorial Contributions may be made to a charity of choice.
(Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer & Philadelphia Daily News on 12/28/2007)
Biographic Sketch from the Distinguished Branch Member Award Program
It has become a Branch tradition to ask the honoree to provide a personal biographical sketch (rather than a cold CV type summary) so that, especially our newer Branch members, get a glimpse of some of the people that shaped our Branch over its long history. It also serves to point out how our success relies on a group of people with different backgrounds and approaches within the field of microbiology. Although Jo mentions her involvement, along with others, in bringing about the first Branch Symposium in 1969, I would like to point out that she not only did this but was associated with this annual symposium throughout most of its long 36 year history. She was not only involved in helping to develop the program, but was a key person in making sure that the actual event, with all the necessary details like registration etc., ran smoothly. She provided the consistency from year to year that was necessary to help formulate a set of processes that eventually became routine and gave the Symposium its reputation as a well organized Branch phenomenon. Also, on those rare occasional years when it was felt that maybe we should skip a year, Jo was always there to say “no way”. Another contribution that should be noted is Jo’s tremendous record as a longtime Executive Committee member. Our Branch cannot exist without this committee and Jo served on this committee for many years and became the advisor on all legal matters. She always supplied sound and consistent advice on what we could or could not do as a non-profit organization and kept the Branch going in the right direction. The Branch is now faced with the task of finding dedicated members like Jo who will see the Branch through its future challenges, and provide the workers needed to keep our status as the most active Branch within the ASM system. The Branch is proud to present the brief bio-sketch of Jo’s career and association with the Branch that follows.
(by James Poupard, PhD.)
Life began for me in Mahanoy City, a small town in upstate Pennsylvania, in the anthracite region of Schuylkill County, about 75 miles north of Philadelphia. It was typical of many such towns throughout the state. It had decent schools, a great library, the requisite high school basketball and football teams whose exploits consumed the population and a bar on almost every corner. The bars were a throwback to the days when heavy mining was done and miners felt the need to stop off after work to rid their throats of the coal dust. It was also a reminder of the heavy price paid by these miners because of the unhealthy conditions in the mines. In retrospect, there was nothing distinctive about the town. It was culturally poor in many ways, but at least the mines were gone. Fortunately for me, immediately after high school, my family relocated to Philadelphia. I fell in love with the city, a love affair that continues to this day.
I had always envied those students in high school who knew exactly what career path they wanted to pursue after graduation. I was not one of them. My choices changed constantly and most of the time were exotic and unrealistic. I did love to go to school, however, and would have loved my career to be just attending classes. Not very practical! So I enrolled in Temple University. At the end of my second year my mother became very ill and spent a great deal of time in the hospital. It was there that I was introduced to the work of the medical technologist. I enjoyed the sciences in high school and the fact that it was a relatively new field appealed to me. So when my mother died soon after I was now on my own. I enrolled in the Medical Technology program at Presbyterian Hospital under Dr Phillip Custer, a renowned pathologist specializing in blood dyscrasias and the first of the many outstanding individuals for whom I would be privileged to work.
I completed the one year course and received my certificate in 1955. I had enjoyed each area of the laboratory but at the end of my training, I knew that only bacteriology held any future interest for me. Therefore, I accepted a position in bacteriology at Presbyterian Hospital where I stayed a year. At the end of the year, I decided I wanted a different experience so I accepted a position in bacteriology at Princeton, New Jersey.
In Princeton, I worked under Dr. Thomas Harvey, a rather eccentric but kind gentleman, whose chief preoccupation was the brain of Albert Einstein that he proudly displayed on a counter in the laboratory, in a large jar of formaldehyde. Dr. Harvey’s obsession with the brain is delightfully chronicled in a book published in 2000, entitled “Driving with Albert,” by Michael Paterniti. I spent two idyllic years in Princeton. At the end of two years, I realized that I was enjoying the social life more than the job. I missed Philadelphia and thought I should get back to the city and back to school.
I returned to Philadelphia and was hired by Drs. Carroll Burgoon and Frederick Urbach, to set up a small clinical laboratory in an old clinic they had taken over to set up a Skin & Cancer Hospital. This facility later became part of the Temple University School of Medicine. They were two wonderful men and it was a great experience to work for them. It was such fun to start from scratch, literally scrubbing out the facility, designing and planning my area of responsibility and actually seeing it come to fruition. But after two years, the old restlessness set in. I did not enjoy the routine except for the bacteriology and mycology, so in 1960, when a position opened at Norristown State Hospital, I reluctantly left these two terrific men and took over the bacteriology laboratory at that facility.
At this time, the State Hospital housed 5000 patients in varying degrees of illness and/or addiction. It was really a small community, consisting of many different buildings, a farm, an infirmary and a clinical and a research laboratory. Everything took place within this rather large facility, with little outside contact and the patients were utilized as laboratory help. This close contact with the patients gave me a greater understanding of mental illness and I will always value my experience there. However, after two years I began to find the isolation stifling. Also, the laboratory facility was very antiquated and there were few prospects that any money would be available to improve the situation. When a position became available at the State Laboratory in Philadelphia, I welcomed the opportunity to return to the City.
I went to the State Laboratory in 1962 and stayed for 29 years. In retrospect, I believe it was because I was impressed with the variety of activities performed there which provided me with opportunities for the periodic job changes that I seemed to require. I was also attracted to the concept of public health. It satisfied my need to be involved in work which I believed had social value to the community. In 1962, in addition to the microbiology and chemistry reference laboratories, the laboratory had begun to implement the recently enacted PA Clinical Laboratory Act regulating only independent laboratories which required separate units to perform annual on-site inspections and periodic proficiency testing. Later, the Act was amended to include hospital and physician office laboratories. In the 60’s, the federal government enacted the Clinical Laboratory Interstate Act and the Medicare/Medicaid programs and relegated the implementation to the states that already had a regulatory program. To regulate the more than 300 laboratories in the state, not including physician office laboratories, the Division of Licensure was established.
My first assignment in the State Laboratory was in bacteriology where I worked for over a year under Dr. Ralph Hogan, a pathologist who had recently come from the Center for Disease Control to direct the laboratory and to implement the new legislation. In the meantime, I had returned to Temple University and received my B.S. in 1964. About this time Dr. Hogan decided to establish a small virology laboratory which was a newly emerging area. I was fortunate to be transferred there, for it took my career in new directions that I could ever have anticipated.
These were exciting times for clinical laboratory medicine. Industry was producing new tests, products and instrumentation at an amazing rate. The result was to enable laboratories to perform a large number of tests on small samples and in shorter periods of time. Independent laboratories were quick to recognize the potential and they began springing up everywhere. This produced a need for additional laboratory personnel and a recognition that training would have to be provided for them to take advantage of the new technology. Since the State was responsible for evaluating the quality of the laboratories, it was determined that the State would assume the responsibility for this training. A training unit was formed and again I was there at the beginning.
We were very fortunate in the first important course we offered to be associated with Dr. Barry Blumberg and his staff. Dr. Blumberg had isolated the Australia Antigen, for which he subsequently received a Nobel Prize, and industry developed a laboratory test to identify the antigen. Dr. Blumberg joined with the State Laboratory and industry to provide training for this important test. Dr. Blumberg and his staff provided the technical expertise, the manufacturer donated the laboratory test materials and the State provided facilities throughout the state as well as laboratory personnel assistance. This was a concept, first employed in PA which became the prototype for future training, and was adopted by state laboratories nationwide. This allowed us to provide training that the states could not otherwise afford.
Since I was getting more and more involved with training, I went back to school and in 1968, I received a Master’s Degree in Education from Temple University. I became Chief of the Continuing Education Program. Soon after, my long relationship with the Eastern PA Branch began. I had been a member and attended many meetings. In 1969, when testing for Rubella became a focus of the laboratory, Dr. James Prier, who had succeeded Dr. Hogan as the State Laboratory Director, conceived of the idea of convening a symposium consisting of all the experts on this topic. He sought and received the co-sponsorship of the Branch, funding from industry and the support of the medical schools in Philadelphia. A program was developed and a two-day meeting on Rubella was held in November of 1969. At the time, only this meeting was planned but it was so successful that an annual symposium on a plethora of subjects has been held ever since and many of the proceedings have been published, three of which I was privileged to serve as co-editor.* It also proved to be a successful fund raiser for the Branch. Again, I was fortunate to be able to participate at the inception of these symposia and for many years later, it proved to be one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences of my career. I also served a term as Secretary of the Branch and many years on the Legal Committee.
I spent four years as the Chief of Continuing Training which was an integral part of the Division, I became the Assistant Director of the Division, now the Division of Licensure and Training, a position I held from 1973-1975. This meant more involvement with the regulatory aspect of the Division. Dealing with so many legal issues increased my interest in the law, so back to school I went and received my law degree from Temple University in 1974.
In 1975 I became the Director of the Division of Laboratory Improvement, formerly called Licensure and Training. Here I remained until my retirement in November, 1991. The last five years proved to be some of the most rewarding. The federal government, pressured by independent and hospital laboratories nationwide, had finally expressed some interest in regulating the huge number of physicians’ office laboratories then operating with no oversight. Since PA had a long history of regulating these laboratories, the federal government and many states became interested in our approach, I traveled extensively, describing our program and lobbying with many others for federal intervention. Finally, as a result of the pressures put upon Congress nationwide, to enact legislation covering these laboratories, they responded by amending the Clinical Laboratory Interstate Act. The amendment extended the federal law to all laboratories and to a large degree, they adopted the physician office laboratory scheme outlined in the PA regulations. With the enactment of this legislation, the implementation aspects would become routine and once again I believed it was time to move on.
When I review my educational and work paths, my choices appear to mirror the growth and technological changes that were occurring during a most productive time in the clinical laboratory. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to take advantage of them.
POSTSCRIPT. After I left the State Laboratory, I continued the limited law practice I had begun in West Chester soon after I received my degree. I practiced until 2002. My time now is devoted to volunteer activities. I serve as Treasurer for the Main Line Symphony Orchestra, which I have done for 15 years. I am also active in a women’s organization, P.E.O., devoted to raising funds to assist needy women in financing their educational goals. Then there is the opportunity to travel and to enjoy all our great city has to offer. It is a good life.
Prier, Friedman & Bartola (Editors), Quality Control in Microbiology, University Park Press, Baltimore, MD 1975.
Prier, Bartola & Friedman (Editors), Modern Methods in Microbiology, University Park Press, Baltimore, MD, 1976.
Bondi, Bartola & Prier, The Clinical Laboratory As An Aid in Chemotherapy of Infectious Diseases, University Park Press, Baltimore, MD, 1977.