It's finally here! Every year, nominations are entered into the ADVANCE Laboratory and Laboratory Professional of the year contest. The laboratorians are judged based on leadership, commitment, passion and excellence in the work place; while the laboratories are judged based on how they have demonstrated innovation, a drive to improve, teamwork and support for their employees. ADVANCE continues to highlight these individuals and facilities in celebration of MLPW.
On behalf of ADVANCE and the entirety of the laboratory community, Congratulations to our award winners! Introducing this year's Laboratory of the Year, Littleton Regional Healthcare, and the Laboratory Professional of the Year, Lana Fairbanks, MT(ASCP)SM.
Littleton Regional Healthcare, Laboratory of the Year:
In his nomination, Robert Mach, MBA, RT(R), executive director of operations at Littleton Regional Healthcare (LRH) in Littleton, N.H., describe the LRH laboratory as routinely going "above and beyond." This isn't simply an indication of the staff's success in patient care or in their active role in the surrounding community. Instead, he referred to the dedication to improvement each member of the laboratory tem displays on a daily basis, regardless of any singular area of performance - especially when it comes to putting the patients first.
"We're in a strange business," he said in a recent interview. "People are usually here to see us because they're not feeling well, and if we can make their day a little brighter by the attitude we portray and the great service we can provide them, then maybe we've helped them out a little bit."
Joined by fellow laboratory professionals, Kim Miller, MT(ASCP), LIS informaticist, and Jean Sapere, MT(ASCP), administrative laboratory director, Mach and his co-workers discussed the elements separating their laboratory from the rest. One specific area that really allowed the LRH laboratory to stand out is the seriousness in which the opinions of laboratorians are taken into consideration in regards to the lab's role within its healthcare community. In addition to the esteem in which the laboratory professionals are valued, LRH has also implemented an EHR system in the past year, a demanding process across the facility.
"I believe in a shared leadership model where everybody contributes," continued Mach. "Their ideas and thoughts are appreciated and acted upon."
Overall, the efficiency and order demonstrated by the LRH laboratory helps the patients to remain relatively stress-free and the hospitals to be able to manage care more effectively. From daily rounding with administrators to meetings with administrators, it is not only clear that there is forum for suggestions, but that the opinions of the staff are important and need to be heard and considered. Goals are tracked and followed through on based on a "stoplight report," which details the progress of various laboratory projects and initiatives and allows the professionals in individual departments to stay up-to-date with both the rest of the laboratory and hospital respectively.
"I do daily rounding everyday with the staff several times a day, asking them what's going well, what's not going well, what I could do for them," explained Sapere. And then I go back to my office and I try to accomplish those things in a timely fashion."
As a critical access hospital on the smaller side, LRH is in the process of working with other critical access hospitals in the area to coordinate laboratory services between institutions. One of the facility's goals to provide a complete service directory for tests performed by the LRH lab in house, as well as the hospital's reference laboratory, available on the facility's intranet or on the website to enhance the testing process further has already been accomplished this past month. Congratulations to the Littleton Regional Healthcare laboratory staff for all of their fine work this year!
Lana Fairbanks, MT(ASCP)SM, Laboratory Professional of the Year:
According to Jennifer Mead, MLS(ASCP)CM, clinical laboratory educator at Parkview Medical Center (PMC) in Pueblo, CO, students in her laboratory describe the microbiology supervisor, Lana Fairbanks, MT(ASCP)SM, as "a textbook with arms. Having started her career in 1974 and risen to supervisor in 1979, not only is Fairbanks a strong leader both in her laboratory and in her profession as a whole, but she is also a technical expert in the field of microbiology. In her time at PMC, she has incorporated a wide range of skills across multiple departments, with her work in infection control sticking out as particularly note-worthy.
"As the supervisor, I work with the infection prevention department, with pharmacy and therapeutics, with the infectious disease and pulmonology teams, on providing quality care to our patients," said Fairbanks. "So, we discuss a lot of topics related to what type of testing is best for our patients."
Each year during infection prevention week, the microbiology department provides posters and handouts in an effort to educate the rest of the staff on warnings and protocols. According to Fairbanks, the focus of this past year's presentation was to work with the nursing staff to prevent accidentally passing multi-drug resistant organisms to patients.
"Our infectious disease team, which we've formed in the last couple of years, has really been pretty active this year," explained Fairbanks. "The infectious disease team is comprised of infection prevention and infection disease, pharmacy and therapeutics, microbiology and the medical staff, and we've had a couple of initiatives this year that have really focused on providing faster turnaround times and testing that will allow patients to be treated more quickly."
As an active member of ASM, ASCP and ASCLS, she helps answer patients questions submitted online to the Consumer Information Team, teaches microbiology lectures and even publishes a newsletter reviewing local and national resistance trends. She also conducted a session at her state conference, entitled, "The Lab's Role in Infection Control - Creating an Effective Partnership." Apart from her role on Parkview Medical Center's infectious disease team, the goals for her near-future in regards to the laboratory are to prepare for the continued progress and incorporation of molecular testing in the laboratory.
"Laboratory science is a very interesting field, and it's something that I've been doing for a really long time - for over 40 years. It's a great profession, and what I really like about it is that it's always changing, always fresh and new."
As a manager, Fairbanks holds her staff to high standards, helping them to meet her expectations by teaching and mentoring. By her goals, it doesn't seem like she'll be slowing down anytime soon, either, as she is aiming to further implement molecular microbiology practice to deliver results in a more timely fashion. Congratulations to Lana Fairbanks, MT(ASCP)SM, for all of her fine work this year!