I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1978 with a degree in Medical Technology. I have worked at several hospitals in my long laboratory career, but the 26 years I have worked in Collins have allowed me to truly understand the importance of what we, as Clinical Laboratory Scientists, do for our patients. We make the difference between life and death every single day that we go to work.
To begin my story, it was a typical Monday morning in the lab, with everyone coming in talking about their weekend. Suddenly, an ER nurse ran into the lab holding a syringe with about 3 milliliters of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) in it. A mother had come running into the ER with the limp body of her 8- month old baby boy in her arms. The doctor examined the child and did a spinal tap ASAP, suspecting spinal meningitis. He now wanted a gram stain performed STAT, which would determine the presence of bacteria in the sample and whether it was positive or negative.
Within ten minutes of receiving the sample in the lab, the ER physician had a gram stain report in his hand that confirmed the presence of gram negative diplococci, an indication of meningitis. With that information, the correct antibiotic was given by IV and the baby was sent by helicopter to Blair Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, MS where he made a complete recovery.
This simple, non-automated test requires only the highly skilled eyes of a Clinical Laboratory Scientist looking through a microscope, yet it made the difference between life and death for an 8-month old baby boy.
I love what I do! It’s especially gratifying to work in a small hospital like this one, where you actually get to see your patients, instead of just tubes of blood or other samples. Laboratory Scientists make a difference in the lives of our patients and we are a major part of the health care team. If you are a lab geek, BE PROUD OF WHAT YOU DO!