As many of you may know… or should know if you read me blog semi-regularly or talk to me ever… I have a freelance gig at St. Anthony’s Medical Center. I’ve spent the past couple of months working on this big project called “A Day in the Life.” First I suppose I should explain the project.
“A Day in the Life” is going to be a series of stories about the ‘unseens’ of St. Anthony’s told through photos and video. There is a “Get it Done” gallery on the first floor of the hospital (across from the ATMs) that is a series of 3 frames that are each 36x24 inches. The plan is to do the stories on the ‘unseens’ (lab workers, pastoral care, building engineering, housekeeping, etc.) and update the gallery with photos. Ideally the photos in the gallery will be switched out every few months. In addition to the gallery, I’m doing video to post to St. Anthony’s website.
When I first started this project, I sent e-mails to several departments and the first to respond was the laboratory. I soon got in contact with two amazing women who work in the lab on the second shift (3-11p.m.). While they may work on the same shift, they’re jobs are completely different. I think they were both excited about my project because as they mentioned, they’re not well known because they don’t interact one on one with patients. People don’t realize how important their jobs are. The laboratory is a fast paced environment full of medical/scientific jargon that often went over my head. They receive specimens from the hospital, doctors’ offices, urgent cares and the ER. With that many people relying on them, there is no time for delays.
Sue is a team lead in the Core Lab (yes, there are different labs within the lab). She is a generalist, which means she knows how to operate and fix all of the analyzers. She basically knows how to do everyone's job and gives them breaks for lunches. It’s obvious that Sue loves her job. She says she learns something new everyday. There are a lot of analyzers in the Core Lab. After weeks of following Sue around, I’m still not sure what they’re all called let alone what they do. In the video I made, Sue explains the analyzers. It’s kind of comical…when I first showed her the video, she thought the close-up of the analyzer working was ‘cute.’ Some of the analyzers are used for parathyroid testing, hematology, and urinology. Sue also did flu testing while I was there. Watch the video. (I'll post a link at the end of this post)
Sharon works in the Microbiology Lab. She works with almost every body fluid imaginable. While I was there one day, she was testing feces…let’s just say I was glad my nose was stuffy that day and even then I held my breath a lot… I think Sharon’s job is fascinating. Sure half the time…who am I kidding, most of them time, I didn’t understand exactly what she was doing, but it’s interesting. I saw her work with the afore mentioned feces, tissue, bone, lung fluid, etc. She mainly does setups and positive blood samples. I enjoyed watching the setups… I think because there was a rhythm to it and I knew if I missed my shot another would come again soon. She explained to me that her job is to look for infections, determine what the infection is, and then decide the best way to fight the infection. So in the setups (I think that’s this part) she adds stuff to help the infection (if there is an infection) grow and uses a rod thingy (not the technical term) to spread out the specimen so the colonies (of the infection) will grow. Then the dishes (again, not the technical term) are placed in an environment similar to the human body to grow. She explains this better in the video; I really recommend watching the video.
If you have 8 minutes to spare, go to this link: http://www.stanthonysmedcenter.com/news/video.asp and watch A Day in the lab with Sue Munton and A Day in the lab with Sharon Duessel. That's right, there are 2 videos about 4 minutes each. While 8 minutes may seem like a long time, I promise you, they're interesting (at least to me and probably those in the medical field) and you'll learn a lot... especially to appreciate the lab workers!
A special thanks to Sue and Sharon, they were great subjects for my first major photo/video endeavor at St. Anthony's.