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Radiology technician Varega receives Mon Valley Hospital's Protin Award

| Saturday, May 25, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Dale Varega holds his Protin Award while posing with his family. From left are his sister, Claudia White; Dale; his wife, Lynn; his father, Walter; and his son, Caleb.

Without fail, radiology technologist Dale Varega espouses compassion, clinical excellence and a calming demeanor at Monongahela Valley Hospital, a hospital official said.

For his work, Varega, of Monongahela, was selected this month to receive the 2013 Edward J. Protin Memorial Award, one of the hospital's most prestigious honors.

“He is somebody who on a daily basis without exception without fail embodies the things we really look for in a healthcare worker,” said David Clark, senior vice president of human resources at the hospital. “He is without fail compassionate. Clinically (and) technically, he's excellent.”

Varega has worked at the hospital 28 years. He received the surprise award at a banquet at the Mon-Vale HealthPLEX in Rostraver.

During the banquet, Varega listened as the award recipient was described.

“(It's) the very last award. ... Everybody is waiting to find out who gets the Protin award,” Varega said. “As they described the person, I still wasn't catching on until about the last one minute.”

Varega said he “in shock.”

“I was really grateful, very humbled,” he said.

As a radiology technologist, Varega prepares patients for X-rays and takes their X-ray images.

The best part of the job?

“Hands down, it's the people,” Varega said. “It's meeting the patients.”

Contact with the patient is an important part of the job, Clark said, because the technologist must position the patient correctly for the X-ray images.

“He will go out of his way to make sure that his patients are comfortable,” Clark said. “He always has a smile. He always has something nice to say.”

In addition to his work at the hospital, Varega is active in his church, Library Baptist Church Crossroads Ministries, and he donates blood regularly to the American Red Cross. He's served as a soccer coach and he mentors students interested in health care careers.

“His priority in life is to serve others,” Clark said.

Before joining the staff at Monongahela Valley Hospital, Varega completed a clinical at UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh and worked at UPMC St. Margaret Hospital in Aspinwall.

He graduated from Monessen High School and attended Penn State University's New Kensington campus. He received an associate's degree and his American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certifications.

The Protin Memorial Award has been given annually since 1981 to perpetuate the memory of the late Edward J. Protin, former president of the hospital's board of trustees and a local leader.

Eligible for the award are hospital staff who have served for more than a decade and who have “exhibited significant contributions to the health care system over and above what is required and demonstrated the qualities of leadership, loyalty, compassion and empathy,” the hospital said in a news release.

Staff submit nominations throughout the year, and the hospital executive management team spearheads the selection process.

Last year's award recipient Mary Lou Murt, senior vice president of nursing, bestowed this year's honor.

“This year's Protin Award recipient is very committed to helping others at (Monongahela Valley Hospital) and throughout the community,” Murt said in a hospital news release. “Our awardee is very confident in his priorities — family, church and work — he responds selflessly to the needs of others, be they children, adults or the elderly.”

Surprising Varega at the banquet were several family members — his wife Lynne, son Caleb, sister Claudia and father Walter.

During the awards dinner May 6, Monongahela Valley Hospital also honored its employees, medical staff and board, including giving the “Diamond Award” to people with 25 years of service.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or