Dr. Catherine Poole’s first impression of Miami was hot.
South Florida’s sweltering heat did not chase Poole away. Rather, she became the first female chair of the University of Miami’s Department of Radiology, and she would end up leading the department for 15 years, lecturing extensively throughout North and South America.
Poole died at age 80 on Feb. 28.
“It’s hot. It’s humid,” she quipped in a 1978 Miami Herald profile on the occasion of her honor at UM. “I’ll never forget the first Christmas in Miami and those damn palm trees. I really intended to go back after my internship, but I’m still here.”
She was an early proponent of the adoption of NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) X-ray technology at local hospitals to diagnose patients in the early 1980s. At the time, this was considered a major advancement over CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scanners. Area hospitals like Mount Sinai, Miami Heart Institute, Mercy and UM scrambled to land NMR scanners, then priced at $1.3 million.
She criticized government regulation of the CAT as it “hindered its full clinical application,” she told the Miami Herald in 1983.
“ I would hate to see the same thing happening in NMR.”
Her friend Linda Wilson, a radiology supervisor, met Poole through their professions. The two would share a home for 35 years - the rest of Poole’s life - in West Chester, Pa.
“She was a warm-hearted, special person,” Wilson said. “She liked helping other people. She had a great demeanor about her, very easy-going. But when she said something it meant something.”
The 1978 Herald profile called Poole “the highest-salaried woman as a radiology expert.” Her goal at the time, she said, was to make X-rays more efficient and less expensive.
“Catherine will be remembered for her compassionate and caring demeanor, her leadership of our department, and for her expertise in pediatric radiology,” said Dr. Robert Quencer, professor and chairman of radiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
She was born in Idaho where she received her undergraduate education at the College of Idaho.
She received her medical degree in 1958 at the Oregon Health Sciences University. After postgraduate work at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, she trained in pediatric radiology at children’s hospitals in Cincinnati, Boston and Philadelphia.
She returned to Miami where she became an instructor at UM’s Department of Radiology and Pediatrics in 1963. By 1978 she was headed the department.
An avid sailor, golfer, reader and animal lover, PooleS was elected to a fellowship in the American College of Radiology and was an honorary member of numerous South American Radiological and Pediatric Societies.
She retired and settled in West Chester in 1996 but the Miami heat — and the Heat basketball team, among others — stayed with her.
“She thought Miami was the most wonderful city,” Wilson said. “She was so dedicated to all the sports teams, whether it was basketball, baseball, football. She always watched them on TV whenever she could. She was so dedicated to Miami.”
Poole is survived by her brother Frank Siddoway Poole of Newcumberland, Pa. Services were held.