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Recognizing Real Life Heroes

Medical Technologist Lolanya Rivers Testing for COVID-19
Medical Technologist Lolanya Rivers Testing for COVID-19

One of the keys to fighting the spread of coronavirus is ensuring patients in the medical center are placed in the right area at the right time to mitigate the risk to staff and other patients.

To accomplish this, medical personnel need to quickly identify which patients to isolate by rapidly testing to determine if they are COVID-19 positive. For a treating physician, faster test results mean faster treatment for patients.

Medical technologists like Lolanya Rivers, who works at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, have primary responsibility in making that happen, which in turn, keeps Veterans and those who care for them as safe as possible.

“We can obtain targeted rapid Covid-19 results in less than an hour using an automated in-house molecular test system capable of amplifying COVID-19 and detecting the virus’s genetic material,” said Rivers.

While there are many healthcare heroes on the frontlines in the fight against coronavirus – physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses, medical support assistants, and others – there is another group of unsung heroes operating behind the scenes. Medical laboratory professionals play a tremendously vital role in the care of 99 percent of the patients that walk through our doors. The impact of their work is seen in the reduction of diagnostic errors and preparation for disease outbreaks and health threats.

This week is Medical Laboratory Professionals Week and we want to say thank you, not just this week but every week of the year!

Laboratory professionals recognize that quality, safety, preparedness, data science, and a well-trained workforce pave the road toward laboratory excellence. Safety and quality in laboratory testing are imperative since doctors and patients rely on laboratories for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of diseases. Worldwide, there are 14 billion laboratory tests performed annually, and 70 percent of medical decisions depend on laboratory tests—emphasizing the importance of clinical laboratories in the healthcare system.

The profession includes pathologists, medical technologists, medical technicians, health technicians, cytotechnologists, histologists, program analysts, administrative support assistants, and more. Approximately 18 percent of the VAMC laboratory staff are veterans and perform more than three million tests per year. They take extreme pride in providing quality, expert care to their fellow Veterans and we salute them for all they do!

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