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Published on October 28, 2011

Mary Jane Hotopp Retires

October 28, 2011 

Mary Jane HotoppIn what some may consider a coincidence, Mary Jane Hotopp, Registered Technologist (M/R) is retired after 40 years in the Valley West Diagnostic Imaging department, during national breast cancer awareness month. As the public face of Valley West mammography, the low-dose screening x-ray that looks for changes in breast tissue, Hotopp has spent the last 20 years of her career performing this screening and helping women through what can be an uncomfortable and difficult test.   

“Her approach to patients is like no one else. She’s cried with and for her patients, and was known for her calmness and gift for knowing how to help patients through news that can be painful to hear,” says Janey Ciontea, Valley West Diagnostic Imaging Manager. 

Hotopp began her career and education in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where she grew up. As a high school senior, she was offered a scholarship to receive radiology training. “I feel like this career chose me. I got an opportunity to go to school and I couldn’t say no,” says Hotopp. After working in California and Washington, Hotopp came to Sandwich Community Hospital. 

When mammography became common in the 1980s, Hotopp was the first to volunteer for training. “I started doing mammography and found where I belong,” she said. “I fell in love with the patients more than what I was doing. You get to know everyone on a very personal level, and I really, really enjoy that aspect of the job. I was so lucky. This career chose me because I was willing to give it a try. And I found my passion.”

Throughout her career at Valley West, Hotopp contributed to the professional and personal development of others, and was looked to as an expert in patient satisfaction, a perfectionist in positioning, and quality control for the women receiving a mammogram. She was known for her spirit and desire to be adaptive, open to change, and to see “new and different” as an opportunity to grow and learn. 
“I have a very strong history of breast cancer in my family. My sister died from breast cancer at a very young age and so did my niece. They were both in their 40s. Had the technology we have today been around then, they’d probably both still be alive today. So, I know how important this whole process is because breast cancer involves the entire family,” says Hotopp. 

In 2009, Hotopp was the recipient of the Karen Sepaniak KishHealth System Spirit Award. Receiving this recognition, which is akin to employee of the year, was an emotional moment because Sepaniak was a close friend and co-worker. Sepaniak marketing and public relations manager and X-ray tech, worked at Valley West for more than 30 years and was the first recipient of the Spirit  Award in 2007. A few months later she lost her battle with colon cancer and it was decided to name the award in her memory. The award given to Hotopp reflects her professionalism, positive attitude, communication skills and service to others. 

Colleagues, family and friends celebrated Hotopp’s long career at a retirement party Oct. 5.  “We thank Mary Jane for her extraordinary years of service and dedication to her patients. She is truly an example of what it means to be dedicated to the mission of the hospital," said Mike Muzzillo, Valley West VP of Operations. 

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