Robetta Trapp, director of Newton Medical Center’s clinical laboratory, is going to miss seeing Harald Boschmann’s smiling face each morning at the lab.
Boschmann has worked as a laboratory tech for 42 years at the hospital, and he clocked in for the last time Thursday. He’ll be honored with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 21 in the Prairie Room at NMC — the hospital’s way of thanking him for his many years of loyal service.
“Harald has brought a sense of dignity to the laboratory, and he’s been a gentleman in every respect,” Trapp said. “He’s thoughtful of his peers.”
While Boschmann has worked in a variety of areas at Newton Medical Center over the years, his main focus has been in the chemistry department. Each day, he processes specimens that are brought into the lab, performs chemistry tests and analyzes samples.
“Many complex tests are being done,” he said.
Today, the lab’s analyzer machine can process 1,000 tests an hour, but lab work wasn’t always this efficient or easy. When Boschmann started in the 1970s, all the work had to be done manually. Using sanitary gloves wasn’t a requirement yet, and the glass syringes used by the lab had to be sterilized after being used.
Results were calculated using a slide rule, and it took two people one day to manually process 10 “panels” (a group of eight to 10 tests). If the lab had to use those same methods today, it would take about 30 to 40 people to keep up with the department’s current workload.
“The amount of information that physicians now have available to use in diagnosing is unbelievable compared to then,” Trapp said. “... We couldn’t begin to do all of the tests that we do manually.”
“We can really put a lot of work through,” Boschmann said of the lab today. “I personally think this is one of the better labs in the whole region.”
Boschmann has taken on leadership roles both within the hospital and professional organizations, but perhaps the work closest to his heart is the mission work he does in his native Paraguay.
Boschmann was born in Paraguay to parents who were refugees from Russia. Every time he returns to visit, he takes obsolete medical equipment with him for the people to use.
“That’s an admirable thing,” Trapp said.
Retirement will give Boschmann more time to pursue some of his hobbies — which include the opera, ice skating, reading and Biblical archeology. In January, he plans to take a trip to Israel.
The thing he will miss the most about his work is interacting with other NMC employees.
“The co-workers make it fun,” said Boschmann. “The environment, the facility we have ... really is outstanding.”