Dr. Cataldo Corrado was destined to become a doctor. His father was a family doctor known throughout the Uniontown community, and passed on his name to his son.
The younger Corrado was born the youngest of eight children. His father wanted to name his first two sons after him, but his mother protested. After giving birth to five girls, she had another son, and the baby of the family became his father’s namesake.
“He was ‘Big Doc.’ I was ‘Little Doc.’ I always had that name, and so I was predestined to become a physician. It would have been odd had I gone into any other profession and still be named Doc,” he said with a laugh.
He grew up seeing his father, “the old country doctor,” treat patients in the family home.
Corrado, now 82, worked at Uniontown Hospital for 63 years in emergency medicine. When Corrado started in medicine, emergency rooms were staffed by students in their residencies. Physicians of various specialties would rotate through shifts in the emergency room.
“I came into emergency medicine in its infancy,” he said.
As a young man, he did not plan to stay in his hometown or plan to go into emergency medicine. The specialty did not exist at the time, and he planned to be an orthopedic surgeon.
He attended Georgetown University Medical School and West Virginia University Medical Center. In his second year of medical school, his mother died.
“I felt bad because my dad was all alone,” he said, and chose to do his internship at Uniontown Hospital.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army for two years, just before the Vietnam War broke out. He then completed his residency at Pittsburgh Hospital in East Liberty as medical director of the emergency department, where he developed a passion for emergency medicine. He joined Uniontown Hospital in 1966 in the same position. He worked full time until 2007, when he cut his hours to part time. He retired Sept. 12.
“It still feels different,” he said.
He said he often reads medical journals and makes a mental note of something new he learned to apply to the next patient, and then remembers he will have no more patients.
Interacting with patients is what he misses the most, he said.
Dr. Surabhi Gaur, Uniontown Hospital chief medical officer and director of emergency medicine, said a focus on patients is Corrado’s legacy.
“His legacy is being an even-keeled patient-centered physician who was able to keep his eye on the prize for so many years,” she said. “That’s just who he is. He just wanted to help people whatever way he could.”
Patient-focused care is especially important in a small town, she said.
Physicians often face burnout with challenges in the healthcare field, overturn in hospitals, new technologies and requirements. Corrado did not face that because he was always focused on his patients. He knew his skills and what was within his control, and did not worry about other things, she said.
“I think he was always so centered on patient care, and he led by example. He was so good at tuning out all the other noise,” she said.
Even working part-time hours, she said he was committed to attending every meeting and company function.
Another piece of Corrado’s legacy is his annual scholarship to provide education to future emergency medical technicians. He was instrumental in providing emergency medical services in the county. He remains chairman of the Fayette County Emergency Medical Services Council, which he founded. He is also a medical director and instructor of the paramedic program at Penn State Fayette - The Eberly Campus.
He has served in many other community roles, including serving as a board member for Laurel Highlands School District, the Fayette County Drug and Alcohol Commission and City Mission. He has won many awards including Pennsylvania American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Emergency Physician of the Year in 2000, the Salt and Light Humanitarian Award through the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, the Citizen of the Year award through the Uniontown Chamber of Commerce and the ACEP Award for Longevity in Emergency Medicine in 1995.
Uniontown Hospital CEO Steve Handy said he is grateful for Corrado’s decades of service to the hospital.
“We have been so blessed to have Dr. Corrado in our emergency department during his decades of service,” he said. “He was a leader by example and is the epitome of service above self. As we move into a season of thanksgiving, I am thankful for the healthy difference he has made in our hospital and our community.”
During Corrado’s retirement, he plans to spend more time with his wife. He acknowledged that in her marriage to an emergency room physician, she was “married to medicine.”
“It’s time I give back some time to her,” he said.
He has two children who also live in southwestern Pennsylvania and a granddaughter who recently graduated from nursing school. Two of his grandsons play football. One works as a football coach at Geneva College and the other plays for Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He said he enjoys watching their games.
He also plans on returning to an old hobby – chess – which he learned to play as a third-year medical student, but never had much time for. He was excited about playing online chess.
“I have lots of things to do, but mainly I want to pay back to my wife, because she gave up a lot,” he said.