Members of the lab department, from core lab, blood bank and pathology to microbiology and phlebotomy.
Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is April 19 - 25
When you think of healthcare professionals on the front lines of COVID-19, you might not think about the medical laboratory team, but you certainly should. These highly skilled professionals are directly handling the virus and must take all of the same precautions as those who are caring for patients with the illness. They are critical links in the chain of diagnosing and treating patients with COVID-19.
Shore’s lab department is tucked away on the 6th floor of the hospital. It’s the home base of our phlebotomists, microbiologists, the blood bank, core lab (chemistry and hematology), and pathology (histology and cytology). Their attention to detail and professional excellence helps nearly every clinical area in the hospital and the patients in their care during normal times, but especially during this pandemic.
Tina Angelo is the phlebotomy and lab assistant supervisor. She says the lab team rose up to meet all of the challenges this pandemic has brought them.
“Our lab assistants are highly skilled professionals that support every department of the hospital as well as Shore Physicians Group. In preparation for this unfortunate event, my team and I went to each unit and provided nursing with one-on-one phlebotomy training so they could conduct blood draws on COVID-19 patients or those suspected of having it to minimize staff contact. Phlebotomy requires a different technique than IV insertion, and we wanted to make sure our nurses were armed and ready for the challenge,” Angelo said.
Christine Estelow is the microbiology lab supervisor. She says it’s been a very busy time, but very exciting, too.
“Anytime we can offer new tests for our patients, it is an absolutely wonderful feeling. We enjoy performing the tests and giving patients and staff the results they need as quickly as possible,” Estelow says. “Quick results mean patients who test negative can come out of isolation. It also saves PPE because staff don’t need to take precautions anymore for that patient knowing they are not carrying the virus. If a patient tests positive, we now know for sure and can ensure safety to our staff entering the patient room.”
Staff safety has been extremely important for the microbiology lab.
“I worked with the state laboratory safety officer to ensure our laboratory employees have all the protective measures in place. We have a small, selective group of laboratorians running this test to ensure focus and accuracy.”
Kathy Thompson is the Directory of Laboratory Services at Shore. She’s extremely proud of the team and how they’ve handled the challenges.
“They’re used to working with dangerous viruses and bacteria. They’re doing what they were trained to do, but at a much higher level and with many changes happening daily. They are very down to earth and grounded, and just getting it done,” Thompson said.