Day in the life: Central Sterile Processing Technician
Instrument sterilization is a vital step in any surgical procedure, but you may not always think about what goes into the process – or who’s doing it. At Northwell, we know our sterile processing technicians are invaluable members of our operating rooms. These technicians handle the sterilization of our instruments from decontamination to dispatch all inside our new centralized facility in Bethpage, NY. Working in the world’s largest sterile processing center, our technicians provide around-the-clock services using the most innovative technology available.
“Our new central sterile processing facility was built with the comfort of our sterile processing technicians in mind,” says Marc MacLaren, RN, BSN, MSN, program director of System Sterile Operations. “As we continue to grow and refine our procedures, we listen to their feedback. The work our technicians do every day is changing the way people look at sterile processing and defining the future of where the industry is going.”
Follow a day in the life of some of our sterile processing technicians at our new state-of-the-art central sterile processing facility in Bethpage.
Step 1: Surgical instruments are brought in for the decontamination team
The first step of sterilization is decontamination. With the facility servicing operating rooms from hospitals all across Northwell, it’s important for our central sterile processing technicians in the decontamination room to handle each delivery promptly and efficiently. The technicians soak the trays as they come in, hand washing them before placing them on the cart to go through the automated sterilized washers. “I love working in decontamination because we’re one of the most vital parts of the process of sterilization,” says La’Queen Burrell, sterile processing technician.
Step 2: Instruments are unloaded and tracked through automated systems
After the instruments go through the washing cycle, a sterile processing technician unloads the clean instruments from the machine into the ‘clean room’ which is kept sterile to protect the instruments. Each tray is processed through a barcode system so it can be tracked throughout the sterilization process. “My favorite thing is how organized our team is to keep things running smoothly,” says Libin John, supervisor, central sterile. “It’s also great knowing our work is helping patients even though we don’t have a clinical degree.”
Step 3: Sterile processing technicians sort trays to create priority order
The washed trays are then sorted in priority order. And with the facility’s capacity to handle a maximum of 22 million instruments a year, our technicians know the important role keeping the trays in priority order plays in ensuring prompt delivery back to the hospitals. Caprice Morgan, lead sterile processing technician, places the trays on shelves to mark them for the proper turnaround time. “I love working as a sterile processing tech because you are always learning new things,” says Caprice. “Every day is a new opportunity to grow.”
Step 4: Instruments are counted and passed through a safety test
Once the trays are separated, the instruments are counted, inspected and placed for packing by our technicians. It’s a vital step to make sure that the instruments are not only accounted for, but properly hand-washed and still maintaining their integrity. “It’s great being able to work on the instruments and know that even though you’re not in the operating room, you still are a part of the surgery helping that patient,” says Kevin Vega, sterile processing technician.
Step 5: Team members package the instruments for sterilization
Clean instrument trays are then packaged by the technicians. Packaging the instruments keeps them safe for when they are placed into sterilizers to finish disinfection before their return to the hospitals. The work spaces in the new facility allow for plenty of room for packing the large trays and individual instruments. “At the new Bethpage facility there’s more room to work and more space for everybody” says sterile processing assistant Patty Guess, who transferred to the facility from a Northwell hospital in April.
Step 6: Instrument trays are sent into the sterilization systems
Now that the instrument trays have been packaged, they’re ready for the final step of sterilization. Sterile processing technicians track and check the trays before placing them in autoclaves (which use steam at high temperatures to sterilize) or into low temperature sterilizers (which use low temperatures and gas to ensure missing something here) depending on the needs of the instrument. “This is my favorite spot to work because it keeps me on my toes,” says Gregory Thurneau, sterile processing technician. “I did it for eight years at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and now being able to do it at the Bethpage facility gives me an opportunity to expand my horizons.”
Step 7: Technicians sort the trays for hospital dispatch
Trays are passed directly through the sterilization systems built into the wall moving them from the ‘clean room’ to dispatch. There they are prepared for delivery back to the hospital. Once the trays have been tracked and accounted for, sterile processing technicians sort them into their respective cabinets for the transport teams. “It’s an important part of making sure the hospitals are getting their trays on time,” says Thomas Varkey, sterile processing technician. “Being part of that helps me make sure the patients get the care they need when they need it.”
Faces of Oncology Care: Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants
The oncology team members at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute provide cancer care to more New Yorkers than any other health care provider. And with so many patients trusting the Northwell Health Cancer Institute for their treatments, our advanced clinical providers are helping make a difference on a large scale. Our nurse practitioners and physician assistants aren’t just helping our patients survive, they’re helping them thrive.
Meet some of our advanced clinical providers below and hear what makes them passionate about working in oncology care.
Working at Northwell for more than 20 years, Keara has dedicated more than half of those to oncology care. As a PA, she embraces the fact that she has the opportunity to change lives of those facing a cancer diagnosis.
“I’m no different from everyone else,” she says. “Cancer touched my life at a young age when my grandfather battled and eventually lost his life due to metastatic colon cancer. That experience changed me in a way that would shape my life.”
Being a PA allows Keara to not only deliver care to her patients, but to be there for them: “In addition to being a part of fascinating scientific discoveries, I am able to ease a patient’s fear and give them hope. I bring smiles, comfort, compassion, hugs and even laughter back into their world. We treat cancer like a chronic illness, not a terminal illness.”
Having worked in oncology outside of Northwell, Keara knows there’s no place like Northwell. “I saw firsthand how differently we care for our patients and their families through unparalleled compassion, empathy and genuine concern. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most wonderful nurses, doctors, and support staff I could have ever hoped for.”
Jennie Hernandez has worked at Northwell for four years at the Monter Cancer Center where she specializes in gynecologic medical oncology.
For Jennie, choosing oncology as her specialty was clear. “I always knew I would end up working in oncology,” she says. “There are a lot of exciting advancements being made and I want to be part of finding a cure for cancer.”
At Northwell, Jennie feels empowered as part of a close team that is always researching and going the extra mile to provide patients with the best care and treatment options. “Working here has helped me develop into the PA I have always wanted to be. The opportunities to help patients with the resources we have are endless and we continue to do more.”
It’s not just innovative treatments and research that makes her job worth it, but the people. In a specialty that can be emotionally difficult, Jennie finds the relationships she develops with her patients are what makes her job so special. “I could not imagine doing anything else because of the relationships I get to create with my patients and their families,” she says. “I feel like they are my family. It’s a close relationship that helps us both get through every day to make the next day an even better one.”
Starting her Northwell career as a nurse in the MICU at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in 2011, Eva McLoughlin made the decision to return to school to become an NP.
The intricacy of bone marrow transplants piqued her interest in oncology and brought her to Monter Cancer Center after she graduated. There she works delivering care on the bone marrow transplant team: “As an NP on the bone marrow transplant team, I am able to help ensure patients have the best quality of life in their time of need.”
Eva takes pride in the fact that her actions are able to change not only a patient’s condition but their outlook. “Every day I have the opportunity to influence a patient’s life in a positive way,” she says.
With 11 years of nursing experience in breast and gynecologic cancer, Elena Palau knows the difference advanced clinical providers can make for their patients. Starting her career as a registered nurse, Elena is now the supervising nurse practitioner at Monter.
“Oncology is a dynamic practice,” says Elena. “It is difficult for the family and patient undergoing treatment and its related side effects but what is gratifying is that with excellent treatments, you may see the patient’s disease respond.”
At Monter, she finds it rewarding to work with the entire oncology care team: “I work with excellent oncologists, nurses and administrative leaders who value my work, opinion, and leadership commitment. To her the most important part of oncology care is, of course, her patients. “It’s important to make the patients understand that you care and to hear what they are saying. As an NP, I can offer clinical help and it’s very rewarding when treatment is successful.”
Develop cutting-edge applications in Software Engineering Internship
Do you have an insatiable curiosity for new ideas and building innovative software? Then you might be Made for Northwell Health’s Software Engineering Internship!
This year Northwell launched a new Software Engineering Internship where our interns worked at the forefront of building new technology for healthcare as part of the Northwell Health Information Technology Innovation Center. With over 400 applicants, five top candidates with varied skill sets were selected to form our first elite summer cohort.
Our summer interns had the opportunity use the latest technologies to build advanced modern software that will deliver real value to our patients, clinicians and organization. Operating like a startup, the team incubated new ideas and worked collaboratively in an agile environment like a commercial software development team.
Joining the team of software engineers, product managers and UX designers, our interns are bringing new ideas to life with the goal of having a pilot-ready software for deployment at our hospitals at the end of their internship. Each intern was mentored by a software engineer to ensure their success throughout the summer.
During their first week, interns attended a Coding Boot Camp, followed by the kick-off of two full stack projects. After presentations from stakeholders outlining important requirements, the interns were off and running in two small teams creating architecture to review with their mentors, running daily stand-up meetings and presenting to stakeholders for feedback.
While delivering projects, students learned about cutting edge technologies and work with the latest development methodologies and frameworks, including self-organizing to create their own development boards and run their own Scrum stand-ups. “The working environment is great,” says Xuliang Sun, a dual Masters student at Carnegie Mellon studying Civil Engineering and Technology Innovation Management. “We work in an open space and our mentors are there to help us. We can easily jump into the huddle room and whiteboard the solution together.”
Nic Lorenzen, senior development lead for the Innovation Software Engineering team believes in giving interns the opportunity to push their comfort zone. He adds, “By the end of summer, they will have created continuous deployment pipelines that push out Microsoft Azure function microservice backends, progressive reactive front end applications and leveraged SignalR for real-time communication. Our interns won’t just ship code like every intern yearns to do; they will ship clean, maintainable code that they can be proud of and we can use and build off of for years to come.”
Let’s hear what our interns have to say about their summer so far:
“I think it’s important to feel like you’re part of the actual team during an internship. I feel like if we were to start working here tomorrow full-time, not much would change since we are already so involved.”
Abrar AhmedMasters Student, New York University
“We’ve discussed ideas with executives throughout Northwell, networked with top technology companies and gained real full stack software engineering skills, all while enjoying the view of the Chrysler building from our New York City office. It feels less like an internship and more like a partnership, innovating to build better solutions for healthcare.”
Fahad HossainSenior, CUNY Queens College
“I learned a lot from the first week Coding Boot Camp and as a team we benefit a lot from the weekly stakeholder meetings where we get direct feedback from users and create our own plan for the next iteration of features.”
Xuliang SunDual Masters Student, Carnegie Mellon
“Interning with the Innovation Center at Northwell Health has been an eye opening experience. I had the opportunity to work together with a wide range of individuals, ranging from software engineers to doctors and nurses to innovate and solve some of the most pressing healthcare issues impacting patient care. Since day one of the internship, I’ve had the opportunity to drive a project on my own that solves real world problems and which I developed using cutting-edge technologies. I am learning a lot and feel like my project matters.”
Joshua ZeitlingerJunior, Stephens Institute of Technology
“This internship did a great job in giving us a big picture view of healthcare and the future trends in healthcare technology. In a few weeks, I’m shadowing a clinician on rounds at Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center and can’t wait to see how the technologies we have been working on can be incorporated right into the clinicians workflow.”
Cindy ZhangSenior, University of Maryland College Park
Celebrating diversity, culture and traditions through the Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a celebration in Asian culture of hard work, harvest and family. This year, Northwell Health’s Bridges Asian Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) led celebrations throughout the health system for our team members to connect with each other and our patients.
We talked to two of the BERG leaders to learn a more about the Mid-Autumn Festival and the importance of creating a workplace where all holidays are celebrated.
Hoi-Sze (Suki) To, practice administrative manager, Colorectal Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital and co-lead, Bridges Asian BERG, Western Region
What is the Bridges Asian BERG?
The BERG was created to enhance engagement, innovation, talent development, and promote an inclusive culture ensuring the delivery of culturally and linguistically sensitive, quality patient care. The Asian BERG nurtures a diverse, inclusive workforce that aligns with Northwell’s mission, values, business practices, and objectives.
What are the benefits of becoming a member of the Bridges Asian BERG?
It provides the opportunity for professional development and networking, a collective voice, a role in fostering community support, and most importantly, broadening cultural awareness throughout Northwell and the communities we serve. I joined the group because there is a need to address the importance of cultural diversity when providing patient care.
There are many Chinese American patients from the Asian communities Northwell serves and it is critical for us to create a comfortable and culturally-sensitive environment. For example, one of Lenox Hill Hospital’s prominent colorectal surgeons, Dr. Joseph Martz, would proactively translated the medical consent forms into the Chinese language and also recruited bilingual support staff in order to communicate effectively with his patients. Our BERG now helps with these needs.
How do you celebrate the festival?
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a chance for families to spend time together, just like Thanksgiving. One of the most common ways to celebrate is by eating moon cakes. Moon cakes are a dense, sweet pastry that’s baked or steamed and typically enjoyed with tea. You can also find moon cakes in other flavors such as green tea and chocolate. Many communities also celebrate by lighting paper lanterns because the lanterns serve a practical purpose of lighting the way as friends and family stay up to appreciate the full moon late into the night.
Yue (Lulu) Liu, senior administrative manager, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital and co-lead of the Bridges Asian BERG, Western Region
Why is the Mid-Autumn Festival important to Northwell?
The Mid-Autumn festival is important to Northwell because this is a holiday that is celebrated throughout Asia and by many of our employees. This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated at Lenox Hill Hospital. The celebration was a collaboration with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Lenox Hill Hospital’s Human Resources, and the Lenox Hill Department of Food and Nutrition Services. The event was very well received and brought patients, hospital staff and leadership together.
Why did you become a member of the Bridges Asian BERG?
Prior to becoming a member of Bridges Asian BERG, I noticed there was a shortage of culturally and linguistically sensitive patient materials. My team and I would spend hours translating the pre-procedure and post-op care instructions over the phone with our Asian patients. After joining the Bridges Asian BERG, I started to collaborate with the Chinese Language Advisory Board (LAB), where we would help procure this information for the Northwell Health Physician Partner practices when they were providing care to the Asian American population.
How do you celebrate the festival?
During the moon festival my family and I always enjoy a meal that ends with sampling a of moon cakes and a special tea my mom selects to pair with the moon cakes. For me, the most important part of the moon festival is spending time with my family, being appreciative of our loved ones, creating new memories, and maintaining the bonds that we have.
My experience in the HMP internship that led to a full-time job after college graduation
Written by: Megan McKenna, Georgetown University, Healthcare Management Program Summer Associate 19′
When I went off to college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I was going to be a doctor. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me, so I pursued other interests in government and American studies. When it came time to start looking for a job the summer after my sophomore year, I took one with a home healthcare company, never expecting for it to start me down a path of healthcare administration. I found that I really enjoyed working with clinicians in a collaborative space to solve problems and help patients. I wanted to learn more about what it would mean to have a non-clinical career in healthcare, so I applied to the Healthcare Management Program (HMP) Internship at Northwell Health. I was ecstatic when I got the call that I had been offered a position as an HMP 2019 summer associate.
This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, NY. When I arrived for my first day, I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited and a little bit nervous – I didn’t know the first thing about hospital administration. When I found out that I would be working in the Emergency Department, I was really excited to be in a fast-paced and dynamic department that plays such a critical role in the hospital and the community.
During my time at Phelps, I had the opportunity to develop skills in project management, data analytics and learn about hospital operations. I was able to build relationships with clinicians and administrators who were really generous with their time and were invested in helping me learn and grow. Everyone was very welcoming and quickly I felt like I was a valued member of the team. Through my projects, I saw firsthand the complexities of hospital operations and the inspiring collaborative work that is essential not only to keep hospitals running, but also to power the entire health system.
Coming into this program, I wanted to be able to explore my interest in healthcare administration because it is not something that I study in school, but I was able to accomplish so much more than that. Not only has this program has allowed me to solidify my interest in healthcare and see the immense opportunity that there is in this field, but I was able to meet inspiring leaders, learn from my peers, and take on new challenges.
Megan has been offered and accepted a full-time position in the Management Associate Program as an Associate at Lenox Hill Hospital once she graduates from Georgetown University in May.
Submit your resume to become a Summer Associate in the 2020 Healthcare Management Program Internship.
It is the policy of Northwell Health to provide equal employment opportunity and treat all employees equally regardless of age, race, creed/religion, color, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, sex/gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, generic information or genetic predisposition or carrier status, marital status, partnership status, victim of domestic violence, or other characteristics protected by applicable law. Northwell Health leaders, including the CEO, are committed to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action.