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CAREERS SPECIAL FEATURE— Tona Savoie, administrative direc-

tor for Bayou Region Surgical Center in Thibodaux, Louisiana, agrees that the work of these technicians is often underappreciated. “Everyone needs the products of

their efforts and expects the items to always be ready to use, but few compre- hend the work it takes to have this type of efficiency and consistent readiness,” Savoie says. “I think this position cor- relates well with factory workers; not many people know or care to know ex- actly what tasks they perform, but the mass population sure does enjoy the benefits of their labor. “My center’s extremely hardwork-

Recognizing the Unsung Heroes of ASCs

While they might not interact directly with patients, without these people, a surgery center would not function. BY ROBERT KURTZ

“These are folks who work so hard ev- ery day, but they get no patient interac- tion. Their job is just expected. Their work is absolutely vital. None of us can do our work without them doing theirs well, and people don’t even know they’re there.” These are the words of Margaret

Acker, administrator for Southwest Sur- gical Center in Byron Center, Michigan. She is describing some of the character- istics of members of her team she thinks of as “unsung heroes” at her facility. Every ASC has unsung heroes, she

says, and while they serve in a variety of positions, a surgery center cannot oper- ate effectively without them.

Central Sterile Processing Technicians These individuals may go by a job title different than central sterile processing technician, but regardless of how they’re described, their work is essential to the success of ASCs throughout the country. “In my mind, almost everyone else has patient interaction, everyone else has a little more immediate gratifica- tion that we all get from our patients,


except for the people in central sterile, and without them, none of our patients would be happy,” Acker says. These individuals have significant responsibility that few people truly un- derstand, says Anne Hargrave-Thomas, CEO/administrator for Lakes Surgery Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan. “Without these behind-the-scenes people, in a team environment, we would not succeed,” Hargrave-Thom- as says. “Candice Coleman is our cen- tral supply person. She ensures that we have all of the equipment we need, and that all of the instruments are cleaned, processed properly and ster- ilized. She’s here from the break of dawn until the end of the day, making sure that we get equipment in, stay- ing late to get it sterilized and making sure everything that needs to happen does before a case gets done. If she doesn’t do her job well, the surgeries wouldn’t happen. We depend on her to help keep our patients safe and infec- tion free. The patients don’t know she even exists, but we couldn’t do our job without her.”

ing, vastly competent, exceptional decontamination technician is Anna Duncan,” Savoie continues. “Anna maintains immaculate record keeping and a pristine work area. She knows how all the equipment works, who to call with issues, how to maintain and process instruments, as well as staff and physician preferences. The work days would be much longer and more stress- ful on the surgeons and staff if it were not for Anna.” Acker says it’s also easy to overlook

the myriad challenges of the position. “It’s physically hard; they’re on their

feet all day,” she says. “They have to know how to use all of the sterilizers, all of the washers. They’re exposed to bloodborne pathogens every day. They work with sharps, so they have to be careful, cautious and really, really fo- cused. They’re not allowed to bend anything. They send instruments out for repair. They order instruments in. They have to know how to clean everything. Their work has to be excellent all of the time. We have three sterile process- ing technicians: Laureen Stetson, Brian Williams and Meg Folcks. They are tru- ly in the trenches. I actually call them our unsung heroes.”

Materials Manager

Another behind-the-scenes employee that is critical to the success of every

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