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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, March 24, 2023


Jan. 24, 2004 – One would think, with 12 guys as a captive audience on the job all day (or night, depending on the shift and the emergencies), that getting photos of each would be a snap.
But Benedicta "Bennie" Acosta-Donastorg's dream was not for just a quick snap and take what you get. Acosta-Donastorg and fellow Roy Lester Schneider Hospital employee Trisha Baker-James had a dream with more substance: a calendar, with 12 photos of 12 men who are consummate professionals in their work life, in dress clothes, then 12 photos of the same men in a choice of casual wear.
And further, to be sure there'd be a good choice for how the photo fit into the dream, 10 or 12 "takes."
That scenario was way past the inception of Acosta-Donastorg's dream, an early idea that "we ought to do a hospital calendar." About a year ago, Acosta-Donastorg approached Schneider CEO Rodney Miller Sr. with a detailed concept, and some of the year was taken up with convincing him to say yes, she could do a calendar, as long as she did it well.
This month, the dream is a reality, with the production, printing, publishing, and going on sale of the "Professional Men of the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital & Myrah Keating Smith Health Center Calendar 2004." And a most professionally created, quality illustrated, and well-done product it is.
Before the photo ops, hospital employees in each section voted to choose who among the men in their section they wanted to represent them. Acosta-Donastorg had decided to do a calendar of male employees, with a plan to use proceeds from the sale and the calendar itself as recruiting tools to encourage young men to enter the field of health care.
Details of layout and content emerged, and Acosta-Donastorg said Gerry Brunn of Continuum International was with them in graphic design all the way to the printer.
Acosta-Donastorg and Baker-James recalled with laughter, in a telephone interview, the way they had to corral the fellows, preprogrammed to have suit jackets available, and how the ladies had to "mug" to get them to smile or laugh on demand. Then, the chore of getting them to agree to which take would be the final choice. "But I'm always serious," one candidate objected. Acosta-Donastorg got him to agree to a smiling finale.
There's also a text biography accompanying each month's star, and Brunn said settling that was more work than choosing the photos, with back-and-forth for changes and approval. Some chose texts describing the hospital and their work, education and training, their personal pastimes or favorite colors, favorite music, favorite foods — Mexican food, Chicago deepdish pizza, vegetarian tofu, fried fish, boiled fish. When asked about travel preferences, the answers ranged from Arizona, the U.S. mainland with its variety, Miami, to Central America, the Caribbean — most on this side of the Atlantic, but a couple for Europe and Paris.
From January to December, they are:
Rodney E. Miller Sr., chief executive officer;
Harold Richards, director of materials management;
Duane Holland, supply district coordinator;
Ronald Nimmo, M.D., OB/GYN physician;
Jamal Haynes, pharmacy stock clerk;
Joseph De James, M.D., family practice physician;
Amos W. Carty Jr., chief operating officer and general counsel;
Frank Odlum, M.D., chief of surgery and president, medical staff;
Marcus Bailey, psychiatric social worker;
Darryl Smalls, director, engineering and maintenance;
Sidney Comissiong, M.D., surgeon
Alfred O. Heath, M.D., surgeon
These men represent several different footsteps in health care to follow: some with long paths winding through academia and internships, but some paths can start right at the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital. The text accompanying each man includes words of advice or encouragement, especially aimed at young people who may choose to follow in these footsteps.
The calendar is for sale at the Inner Wheel Gift Shop in the hospital lobby, and will soon be available at other locations. In the meantime, Acosta-Donastorg said Thursday she had sent a volunteer down to Main Street with an armful of 15, and the volunteer called back by lunchtime for another armful, as she had sold all she'd carried.
Will Acosta-Donastorg try to repeat or top this effort? Next time, of course, she said, it's only fair to choose from among the facilities' ladies. Next time, she mused, maybe the plan will be for a 24-page, two-year calendar. But regardless of exactly what it might be, there's no question but what there will be a "next time."
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