Longtime Prairie County Clinic Manager Barb Rittal stands alongside Wibaux native Cody Barnhart, who is set to begin as clinic manager September 1. He will also work as manager of the Prairie Community Hospital Foundation, a 501-3C non-profit group that Rittal initiated and has managed since its 2009 inception. The foundation raises funds that benefit the health care facilities in Terry.
Longtime manager will retire end of August
By Kay Johnson
Prairie County Clinic has undergone plenty of changes in recent years, but none any more significant than the one the facility will experience later this month when longtime clinic manager Barb Rittal is set to retire.
“It’s a hard thing to do, but it’s time,” said Rittal.
Rittal, who began managing the clinic in January 1978 under Dr. Lorance Krogstad, said that although she is looking forward to spending more time traveling and visiting family and friends, she will miss working at the facility.
“It’s been marvelous,” Rittal said describing her years at the clinic. “I’ve been able to do something I love for so long. I thoroughly enjoy the patients and the staff.”
Rittal grew up in Montana’s Flathead Valley. She moved to Terry shortly after meeting husband Jerroll in Spokane, Wash., where she managed a physician clinic. The couple’s daughter Jennifer and her husband Gordon live in the Tucson, Ariz., area, along with their grown son Byron and his wife Gia. With Jerroll’s recent 30-year retirement from Buffalo Rapids, the couple intends to make Arizona a more frequent vacation destination.
Wibaux native Cody Barnhart will begin his duties as clinic and foundation manager September 1. He and his wife Ashley and their three children Ki 7, Jackson 6, and Mia 2 are in the process of moving to Terry from Glendive.
“Right now, I’m getting to know the community and the people,” Barnhart said.
Barnhart has been finishing up an internship at the Glendive Medical Center as part of his Bachelor of Science degree in Health Administration from Montana State University-Billings.
“I’m filling a position; I’m not filling shoes,” Barnhart said, indicating his predecessor’s contributions. “This is a very successful facility, due to people like Barb.”
It’s a sentiment that health care provider Chip Mintz, PA-C shares. Mintz has worked with Rittal since his arrival in 1991. Describing Rittal as an incredible worker, who has always been willing to take on new responsibilities and roles, Mintz said many of the clinic’s health services and technologies are in place because of Rittal’s efforts.
“The health fair and foundation wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Barb,” Mintz said. “She spearheaded continuing education classes for our providers and played a huge part in our radiology department and satellite and telemedicine labs.”
Along with helping to enhance the clinic’s medical services, Rittal has also had a hand in updating the facility’s curb appeal – adding a front entrance flowerbed that includes a wagon wheel donated by Robert and the late Truene Bond and completing a memorial garden that includes a brick flowerbed, cement walkways and birdbath.
“She will definitely be missed.” Mintz said. Adding only half-jokingly, “She’s the only one who knows where everything is.”
Published August 15, 2012