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Teamwork Magnified in the Laboratory

Lab

“What would a hospital be without a lab?” says Julietta Fiscella, M.D., Chief of Pathology at Highland Hospital, who is proud of the Laboratory staff and their pivotal role in the diagnosis and treatment of Highland’s patients.

The dedicated staff, each member with diverse skills, is responsible for hundreds of tests performed each day on blood samples, other fluid samples and post-surgery specimens. Sections such as Chemistry, Hematology, Histology, Blood Bank, Microbiology, Specimen Management and Point of Care collaborate as the Highland Laboratory.

“Every person, every section is important,” says Rosemary Ziemba-Ball, MS, MBA, Administrative Director for Clinical and Laboratory Services. “The staff is physically segmented in their own areas. But we share information with each other to keep us all working together toward a common goal.”

Lab staff members focus on their roles in patient care. “Each tube of blood is a person to us,” says Karen Behlau, MT, Chemistry Section Head, “and we know we are part of that person receiving the correct diagnosis and the appropriate therapeutic treatment.”

What makes the Lab a cohesive department?

“It starts with good communication,” says Rosemary. Each shift begins with a daily huddle – which can be as brief as 5 minutes – to get everyone up-to-date on what’s going on in the Lab as well as the hospital. Ellen Lukash, MT, Blood Bank Section Head, sends out Huddle Hints to ensure that staff know about topics. A notebook with minutes is kept in the Lab for those who might be out that day. The key is to keep the huddles brief and address larger issues outside that daily meeting. The Lab also holds a monthly meeting for all staff.

The 70-member staff of the lab conducts 1.8 million tests per year.

“Cross-training between lab departments has created more cohesion in the Lab,” says Woody Cichanowicz, MT, MS, Microbiology Section Head. Staff members are happy to move into different sections to help when needed.

Adding to the feeling of unity are shared celebrations like monthly birthday cakes, baby showers, lab jackets, and a pie day each fall. Dr. Fiscella also treats everyone to a special lunch during Lab Week.  Currently most of the lab is located on the fourth floor with gross anatomy in the surgical area, but plans are in place to bring all sections of the lab to the fourth floor.

Staff members are committed to their roles as hospital employees, as well. Recently, they began a liaison program with Nursing where Lab staff members partner with nurses on different units. This fosters awareness of what the Lab does and what Nursing is doing. Lab staff members also participate in hospital-wide activities such as the March For Babies walk, Tour de Cure cycling event for diabetes, Beat the Blahs and the Pink Glove video.