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Laboratory Professionals recognized – behind the scenes – at Naval Hospital Bremerton

Lab Pros Pause…members of Naval Hospital Bremerton take a moment from their daily duties – they handled approximately 798,400 lab studies in 2018 – to be recognized for all their behind the scene(s) efforts during National Medical Laboratory Professionals week, April 21-27, 2019 (Official Navy photo by Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs).

Story by Douglas Stutz

Naval Hospital Bremerton  

Trust laboratory professionals to get results.

Even behind the scenes at Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) as National Medical Laboratory Professionals week was acknowledged the week, April 21-27, 2019.

“We celebrate the ‘hidden professionals’ who work behind the scenes to provide our patients with the safest and most reliable healthcare available today. They have excelled at Naval Hospital Bremerton not just in patient care, but also on national inspections and surveys, such as the College of American Pathologists and American Association of Blood Bank inspections, as well as The Joint Commission and MED IG surveys. Our laboratory professionals cross multiple disciplines and are true champions of patient safety. What our staff do on a daily basis is important and critical for all we do in healthcare delivery. We simply cannot function without their tremendous support,” said Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, NHB commanding officer. 

There are 45 enlisted personnel, civilians, lab officers, and pathologists assigned to NHB’s Laboratory, including Branch Health Clinics Bangor, Everett, and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. They handled approximately 798,400 lab studies in 2018. The staff are very multi-disciplined and includes such specialties as admin support, phlebotomists, medical technicians, medical technologists, cytotechnologists, histology technicians, and pathologists.

Besides obtaining and receiving patient samples – everything from blood to tissue – and processing them, areas of specialty include; Phlebotomy, the act or practice of opening a vein by incision or puncture to remove blood as a therapeutic treatment; Chemistry, the study of the chemical processes in living organisms; Urinalysis, an examination of the urine to determine the general health of the body and, specifically, kidney function; Hematology, the study of the nature, function, and diseases of the blood and of blood-forming organs; Microbiology, the branch of biology dealing with the structure, function, uses, and modes of existence of microscopic organisms; Serology, the science that deals with the properties and reactions of serums, especially blood serum); Histology, the branch of biology dealing with the study of tissues; Cytology, the study of the microscopic appearance of cells, esp. for the diagnosis of abnormalities and malignancies; Pathology, the science or the study of the origin, nature, and clinical course of diseases; and Blood Bank (management) of the packed red blood cells and/or plasma which is typed, processed, and stored for future use in transfusion.

“We’re thankful our command recognizes all the work we do. As ‘labbies’ we support everyone from the Main Operating Room to Labor and Delivery, and to the Urgent Care Clinic. We get the mission done and move on to the next,” commented Cmdr. Todd Tetreault, Laboratory Department head.

The list of all the specific jobs/duties/responsibilities handled by the Med Lab technicians includes; collecting blood or body fluids from patients; accessioning patient samples to allow automated equipment and Laboratory information systems to analyze, interpret, and result provider ordered testing; processing patient samples to allow ordered tests to occur; performing testing in Chemistry, Hematology, Urinalysis, Coagulation, Microbiology, Immunohematology (Blood Banking), Serology, Histology, and Cytology; collating and verifying testing results; certifying the authenticity of results and release them to the health care providers; conducting Quality Control and Quality Assurance Initiatives to ensure the continued accuracy and precision of reported results; and equipment maintenance in every area listed above.

NHB’s Laboratory is also part of the Armed Services Blood Bank Center – Pacific Northwest. There is a blood drive at NHB on May 2, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those willing to donate can make an appointment at; militarydonor.com or call Ens. Min or Hospitalman Homrighausen, 360-475-5030.

Compiled statistical evidence shows that approximately one patient out of seven who enter a hospital like NHB will need blood. That’s stateside-relevant data, completely separate to Afghanistan, where NHB still has staff members currently deployed.

Along with battlefield needs, blood and blood products are needed to support all active duty, retirees and military families, from cancer patients to surgical patients. 

One pint (or unit) of blood can save up to three lives, and that unit can be separated into several components: red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate. The red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues. Plasma is a mixture of water, protein and salts, and makes up 55 percent of actual blood volume. Platelets promote blood clotting and give those with leukemia and forms of cancer the chance to live. Cryoprecipitate is collected from plasma that has been frozen, then thawed, and acts as a coagulation agent.

There is never any real down time in the laboratory. Laboratory personnel continually work around the clock to support the Urgent Care Clinic and all inpatient clinics and departments. The Lab is open to beneficiaries for specimen drop-off around the clock and for outpatient specimen collection Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. 

NHB’s Laboratory has also been fully accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). It is also licensed and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Thank you to all of our laboratory professionals. This week we celebrate you,” added Bitterman.

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