Published on June 14, 2022

Behind the Scenes Heroes 

Photo of Lab Team

Nash UNC Health Care’s laboratory department is a team of unsung heroes who work behind the scenes to process bloodwork and tests that help diagnose various medical conditions. The work by the lab team gives medical professionals the answers they need to decide what treatment plan is best for the patient. Oftentimes, the work performed by the lab helps save the lives of patients.

Recently, that very scenario unfolded for the lab team when they learned that a new test performed for the first time at Nash UNC helped save the life of a colleague’s child.

In late April, Nash UNC introduced a new blood culture identification panel that allows faster bacteria and pathogen identification than traditional tests. This means a potentially life-saving diagnosis can be made faster and treatment can begin sooner for conditions that can be deadly, such as sepsis.

“The blood culture identification panel is a test that identifies a bacteria or yeast causing sepsis. After identification is completed, this panel helps physicians tailor antibiotic treatment for sepsis in a shorter time period than traditional methods,” Shairee Taylor, Nash UNC Laboratory Manager explained.

Shortly after rolling out the new test, Lauren Williams, a Nash UNC critical care nurse, arrived in the Emergency Department with her sick 10-month-old child Griffin. The care team knew it was time to put the new test to work in hopes of getting quick answers for the very sick child.
Prior to introducing the new test, proper identification of bacteria and pathogens took two to three days to perform.

“In this situation, we were able to provide an identification for the positive blood culture in less than 24 hours of performing the test,” Taylor said.
The Nash UNC lab team quickly relayed the results to the facility where Griffin was transferred due to his condition, and the information helped identify the treatment needed to save Griffin’s life.

“I am proud of my team for their hard work and dedication to rolling out this new test that can drastically improve patient outcomes. To see how the test has already helped save a life is incredible,” said Rachel Sutton, Nash UNC Laboratory Director.

Marquicia Turner, a medical technologist, was responsible for completing the first part of the test, and she is thankful to impact patient care working behind the scenes.

“I’m happy to be part of a lab team that’s making a difference in the lives of patients. Being able to provide faster blood culture identification results improves care. The greatest reward is to know that I was part of this process,” Turner explained.

Kimberly Crews, a medical technologist responsible for the second step of the test, agreed with Turner.

“I have been a medical technologist for 27 years and I have never really felt the impact of what I do each day until now. Being a part of saving a life is an indescribable feeling. I hope this will help others to understand a little of what we do in our profession and how we as med techs impact the lives of patients behind the scenes.”

Griffin was recently discharged from the hospital and is back home with his family. One of the reasons for the positive outcome is due to the lab team’s quick work with the new test and their collaboration with the patient’s entire care team.

“I am so thankful for the lab team, the test that helped us get answers quickly, and starting treatment in a timely manner. Even after Griffin was moved to another facility, that hospital looked to Nash UNC and our lab team for the results and answers needed to develop a treatment plan,” said Williams.

“This is a prime example of how the direct involvement of the laboratory helps improve patient care. The laboratory team, nurses, infection prevention professionals, physicians, and many others did a great job working together. It takes all of us to care for our patients,” Taylor said.
Griffin’s mother agreed with Taylor and emphasized the teamwork it took to help save her son’s life.

“There were so many people who worked together for my son. Several nurses and phlebotomists tried to get a blood draw, but due to his unique situation, Griffin was difficult to stick. Joey with the respiratory team ended up trying and it was a success,” Williams explained. “I so appreciate him for stepping out of his role and going above and beyond to get the blood draw needed for the lab to run the test. To see so many people work together on behalf of my son meant a lot to me and really speaks volumes about the level of care provided at Nash UNC.”