Share The Health

Barb Christoff Retires After 38 Years of Service


In 1977, Barb Christoff and her family moved to Frederick, Maryland to be closer to her husband’s new job. After years of living and working as a nurse in the Washington DC area, the Pennsylvania native applied for a full-time nightshift position as a Registered Nurse (RN) at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

When a position became available in 1978, Barb joined the FMH team as an RN on the Medical-Surgical unit, also known as the med-surg unit. Working overnight, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., made it possible for Barb to pursue her career in nursing while also taking care of her family. According to Barb, working overnight was perfect; “When my boys were little and I was working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., they didn’t even know I worked sometimes!”

The med-surg unit looked very different in 1978. Originally located on our 3A unit, the overnight care team included Barb, who was the RN for the unit, an LPN, and CNA. This team of three cared for up to 39 patients at a time. When comparing her time on the med-surg unit to the same nursing unit today, Barb notes a difference in the patients we see and the level of care they require; “at that time, the acuity level (or level of illness/injury) of the med-surg patients we saw was much lower than the acuity level we see today.” After three years on the med-surg unit, Barb joined the ICU team and continued to provide quality patient care to some of our most vulnerable patients at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Fast forward to 1989; Barb had recently received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing, and she applied for a new position in the Employee Health Department at FMH. “I had just finished my Bachelor’s Degree, which was required for the position, and it was an exciting new opportunity for me.” At its inception, the Employee Health Department consisted of Barb and her typewriter; caring for 900 hospital staff members who were ill, sustained an injury at work, or needed their yearly health assessments. Barb also conducted all of the physicals for new employees at FMH, ensuring they were healthy and ready for work.

In the years following her initial development of the Employee Health Department, Barb has since received her MBA and her certification in Occupational Health Nursing. Barb’s continued dedication to her professional development and the staff at FMH has resulted in the Employee Health Department as we know it today. Over the years, they’ve moved offices four times, expanded their hours to care for the nightshift staff, and two years ago a nurse practitioner was added to the Employee Health Department. “It’s a great service to our employees who are feeling ill and need to see someone right away. It’s really convenient.”

For Barb, the most enjoyable part of working in Employee Health has been the people. “I get to know everyone! At some point throughout the year I have an opportunity to interact with every employee, whether they’re ill, injured or just stopping by for their annual flu shot, I get to know them.” In addition to meeting and getting to know staff for all over the hospital, Barb values the time she’s had with the Employee Health team. Abbe Rutland joined the team in 2001, followed by Sherry Moore in 2003. For many years this dynamic trio has been the face of the Employee Health Department at FMH.

This isn’t where she thought she’d end up when she began working in DC Area hospitals as a new nurse, but Barb is happy with the results of her hard work. “Employee occupational health wasn’t really a ‘thing’ when I started as a nurse back then. It has been a great and challenging opportunity to establish this program, and it’s a well-respected department.”

This February, after 38 years, Barb will begin a new and exciting journey as she retires from Frederick Memorial Hospital. When asked about the changes she’s seen during her time at FMH, Barb most notably mentions how the hospital has grown. “When I started working here, we were a small community hospital. Now we’re a health system that offers wonderful services and healthcare to the community.” Barb attributes this evolution to the vision and dedication of our leadership team. “I’ve seen a lot of changes in 38 years, and it’s been great to watch.”

When asked what her plans are for retirement, Barb replied “Good question! Do you have any ideas?” Travel and time with family, especially her granddaughters, is on the agenda when Barb retires in next month. “I have a cruise planned and trip to Upstate NY…but mostly I like to go to the Weinberg Center or Kennedy Center with my granddaughters.” If Barb finds herself with no plans, her granddaughters, age 14 and 17, have some ideas; “they recently gave me some of those coloring books for adults!”

Employees of FMH know and appreciate Barb for her kind nature, especially when she’s administering annual flu vaccines, and also for her positive attitude. When asked if she had any advice, as someone with over 38 years of experience in the workplace, it’s no surprise that Barb offered these words of wisdom: “Never stop smiling. No matter what happens, you can always smile and be kind to people.”

With those words of wisdom fresh on our minds, the entire Frederick Memorial Hospital team would like to thank Barb for her 38 years of dedicated and kind service to Frederick Memorial Hospital, the FMH team, and the entire Frederick Community. Congratulations and best wishes as you enter this new and exciting phase of your life. We hope retirement brings you rest, relaxation, time with family, time to travel, and of course more opportunities to never stop smiling!

Categories: Careers