How Veteran Lenore Brathwaite uses skills she learned in the U.S. Army at Northwell Health Laboratories
Lenore Elizabeth Brathwaite, who is a six-year Army Reserves veteran, two years deployed during Desert Storm, and today is a project manager of Hospital Laboratory Integration and Operations at Northwell Health.
Lenore gained vital skills in the military that help shaped her civilian career today. In the U.S. Army, she held many roles such as a Sergeant, blood transfusion coordinator, and phlebotomy supervisor. This helped her to learn skills ranging from. communications and leadership, to the ability to work under pressure and problem solve . “The military taught me to handle change and adapt to new situations in a short amount of time,” says Lenore. “My flexibility to adapt to changing environments allows me to stay productive and positive. As a section Sergeant I always had to remain calm and be confident in my leadership decisions to lead my team.”
Transitioning into healthcare
Lenore’s interest in healthcare sparked when she was in high school and witnessed her mother undergo chemotherapy treatments. She saw how important it was to be the voice for the patient and to always have empathy and patience. This is what she practices with her team now as she helps lead projects.
She started her Northwell journey in 2012 as a point of care supervisor (POCT) at Long Island Jewish Hospital. This role gave Lenore the opportunity to coach her team to provide quality care. Throughout the years she has grown into her career in hospital laboratory operations and in her current role as a project manager, Lenore coordinates with senior leadership, assists in projects, and prepares financial and quarterly reports as a project manager. And as a clinical laboratory technologist, Lenore’s experience helps her lead and enabled her pitch and help her team when necessary, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her time serving the country and working in healthcare enabled Lenore to become a great team member. “Northwell has many great leaders. I had the pleasure to work with and learn from a few of them during my past years,” she says. Lenore is inspired by Northwell’s President and CEO Michael Dowling and his dedication to veterans in addition to his leadership motivates her to work harder.
In addition to learning from her leaders, Lenore is also a member of Northwell’s veteran-focused Business Employee Resource Group VALOR (Veterans and Allies: Liaisons of Reintegration). Being a part of this group allows her to connect with other members of the military, veterans and their families. “VALOR has great resources to help veterans transition. We are a BERG comprised of fellow veterans from all roles across the organization. Who better to understand the hardship of transitioning from military to civilian status but us,” Lenore says.
Lenore feels supported, encouraged, and honored at Northwell as a veteran and encourages fellow veterans to explore the limitless opportunities that are offered!
Appointment With: Joseph Castagnaro, VP, Lab Services Integration and Operations
Joseph Castagnaro has grown in his laboratory services career at Northwell Health from being the laboratory administrative director at Southside Hospital (soon to be South Shore University Hospital). From overseeing the pre-surgical testing and patient experience departments at Southside to being promoted to senior lab administrative director and overseeing all of our community hospital labs, Joseph’s well-rounded experience has given him the skills he needs to be successful. Today as vice president, of Lab Services Integration and Operation, he is responsible for all hospital lab operations, including our health system owned labs and non-system labs we manage in other local communities. We sat down with Joseph to discuss the variety of careers in clinical laboratory and what makes working in Northwell’s labs so unique.
How has the work of our laboratory team members been vital to our organization and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and as we recover?
This past year has been one of the biggest challenges the laboratory services teams have ever seen. The COVID-19 pandemic was, and continues to be, at the forefront of every person and patient in every community nationwide. Luckily we had the fortune of building a brand-new, state-of-the-art lab a year earlier in Lake Success, NY, which ultimately gave us the ability to enhance and expand our molecular department this year in order to meet the COVID-19 testing demands in our area. Our health system has always had a great lab team and has always worked well together. This past year we had to work together in a fashion unlike ever before. The pandemic brought out the best in all of our laboratory healthcare heroes. The resiliency and teamwork of our lab staff across the health system was unprecedented.
What are some of the careers for laboratory professionals within our hospitals and Northwell Health Labs?
We have a variety of clinical labs in Long Island, New York City, Staten Island and the Westchester areas that range in size and scope and we operate 24/7 across 365 days a year. Whatever type of lab or shift you’re looking for, we have it available. Aside from the MDs, pathologists, pathology assistants, cytotechnologists, PhDs, laboratory technologists, technicians and phlebotomists, we have many other types of positions from entry level to very specialized areas which include:
Lab Information System Specialists
Quality Managers and Specialists
Lab Support Associates
Route Service Drivers
What makes working at Northwell Health unique?
Working at Northwell is unique in so many ways:
Our health system laboratories handle EVERY aspect of lab services and testing.
We are the largest, not-for-profit health system reference lab in the region.
We’ve developed a partnership with the NYC Health + Hospitals lab services and created the largest joint venture lab in the country.
We have two core lab facilities, our automated lab and our microbiology lab that specializes in infectious disease.
We also have careers in tertiary care hospitals, small community hospitals, physician offices, cancer centers and other ambulatory settings. Whatever kind of lab you would like to work in, we have it for you!
The most important and unique thing that we do is to work as “one” lab amidst many locations. One way we did this was by establishing joint standards/methods committees. This is where we bring the experts within each lab discipline together on a regular monthly basis to network, brainstorm and determine best practices within their respective areas. This is then shared among all of our sites.
Our employee development programs are second to none. Our Center for Learning and Innovation teaches project management courses such as, LEAN and Six Sigma and basic leadership essentials classes for those looking to enhance their leadership skills. We also have an established High Potential and Lead Next program for staff already in leadership positions and our lab created a leadership development program, L-Lead (Laboratory Leadership), which is designed for new, current and future lab leaders.
Are there any exciting initiatives on the horizon for our laboratories?
We are in the process of developing a Medical Technology program with Hofstra University. Recruiting and finding laboratory staff has been difficult industry wide across the nation so we decided to grow our own. We’re also constantly upgrading our lab equipment system wide. This coming year we’ve selected new blood gas analyzers to roll out across our entire health system. The remainder of this year and well into next year, we will be addressing the probable collision of influenza and COVID-19 and how we will best be prepared to ensure we meet all of the clinical care patient needs related to laboratory testing.
Lab Professionals play an essential role in the fight against COVID-19
Northwell Health Labs has been at the forefront of innovative care before and during COVID-19. Our labs quickly established itself as a leader in processing COVID-19 tests, being the first with manual tests, and later automated testing processes. As the fight against COVID-19 evolves, so does the work of our laboratory teams. Today their focus has shifted to include antibody testing, a test that allows patients to see if they previously had the novel coronavirus.
To perform these vital tests for our communities, our laboratory team members have been working in new ways. Former laboratory technologists have volunteered to return to the floor to help meet increased testing volume while our phlebotomists have been working outside the labs at COVID-19 testing sites. The teamwork displayed has been endless as they work together behind the scenes to keep our communities safe and our clinicians informed.
Recognizing the needs in this unprecedented time, many lab professionals continue to go above and beyond to deliver care. Merissa Ashrafalli, a lab technologist in Diagnostic Immunology/Serology at Northwell Health’s Core Lab, even returned early from her paid family leave bonding time to help support the fight against the virus. “I returned early to help on the front lines during this critical time because my team needed me. Our patients are our priority. Many think of a specimen as just a sample, but that is someone’s family member.”
And her work in Serology has never been more vital as her team works to get COVID-19 samples processed in a timely manner while dealing with new testing platforms and new assay material. “Without our staff in Serology, testing could not happen,” says Merissa. “As a team we are all working and learning together in this fight.”
Serology professionals aren’t the only ones essential to the Northwell Labs. Phlebotomists play the important role of collecting the samples – the first step in getting a diagnosis so patients can receive the care they need. As part of the initial battle, phlebotomists like Amber LaGuerre, volunteered to work at the New Rochelle COVID-19 testing site, the first in the country.
“Being a part of the New Rochelle drive-thru was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Amber. “I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer because I knew it was my way to rise to the occasion and make a difference in this pandemic.” As the first testing site, the work of Amber and the other team members changed daily to ensure their testing would be as accurate as possible as the nation’s knowledge of the disease grew. It was their dedication, ability to adapt, and skills that helped make the site a success.
While Amber’s time at the testing site may have ended, she’s still working tirelessly to help patients get the care they need. As a phlebotomist with LabFly, Northwell’s mobile app that lets patients schedule blood draws at home, she’s bringing the testing process directly to our patients. “I know the work I’m doing is impactful no matter the setting I’m placed in, whether it be a hospital, nursing home, or a patient’s home,” says Amber. “Patients are more at ease being tested at home and I’m glad that we’re able to offer the convenience of LabFly to make the testing process just a little more comforting in a time of such uncertainty.”
Though work of our laboratory teams continues to evolve during the pandemic, one thing remains consistent: these healthcare heroes should be proud of the vital role they’re serving in defeating COVID-19.
“I am prouder than ever to work with Northwell Labs because I’ve seen lab personnel finally be recognized beyond the organization for the work we do,” says Merissa. “It is in these times that those who work behind the scenes get the thanks that is needed.”
“It’s very humbling to know as a phlebotomist my work is directly combating the fight against COVID-19,” agrees Amber. “The amount of gratitude I receive not only from patients, but people on the street that see me in scrubs throughout my shift, is a daily reminder of why I chose to be in healthcare.”
Northwell Health Labs provides career growth for lab technologists
When Nathan Howell first started working at Northwell Health Labs in 2016, he accepted a position as a lab support associate after graduating college. Since then he’s grown his career working in our automated lab, becoming a lab technologist and specializing in Chemistry, Special Chemistry, and Serology.
For Nathan, Northwell Health Labs was the perfect start to his career to get the well-rounded experience he needed to grow as a lab technologist. “I’m glad that I made the leap to work in the automated lab straight from school because it’s an opportunity to work alongside an incredibly skilled and knowledgeable staff and to grow exponentially as a younger technologist,” says Nathan.
And working in the automated lab, Nathan enjoyed being able to continue learning thanks to the diversity of departments there. “I’ve had the opportunity to gain experience in everything from specimen processing and accessioning, to quality control validation and assay correlation, as well as extensive instrument maintenance and troubleshooting,” says Nathan. “The scale and depth of which I have learned these skills is something that can only be obtained here at Northwell.”
Northwell’s automated laboratory is a 101,000 square-foot facility with the largest Roche automated line of its kind in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. This provides our clinical laboratory team access to the state-of-the-art equipment they need to help physicians deliver life-saving results to our patients.
With over 30 million tests performed at our 23 hospital-based labs and centralized laboratories, Nathan is able to gain experience with a variety of cases he might not see anywhere else. “Abnormalities or diseases that are typically very rare – such as 1 in 100,000 or 1 in 500,000 to even 1 in 1,000,000 – become more common. There’s something new to be seen and to learn on an almost day-to-day basis working at Northwell.”
Beyond developing his own career, working behind the scenes as one of healthcare’s “unsung heroes” is also extremely rewarding. “I take a lot of pride in knowing the work that I do and the care I put into the instruments that run our specimens has a direct impact on this lab’s ability to provide quick and accurate patient care,” says Nathan. “The level of detail and care that goes into our process to ensure we’re providing the best patient care possible is something that is unmatched anywhere else.”
What you didn’t know about Cytology and why you should consider it as a laboratory science career
When it comes to how patients are diagnosed, cytology plays a huge role. At Northwell Health, laboratory technologists and technicians who work in our state-of-the-art laboratories are very instrumental in our success. They are responsible for preparing cytology specimens for microscopic evaluation by Cytotechnologists and Cytopathologists in detecting infections, premalignant and malignant conditions.
So, in preparing for a laboratory career in Cytology, what should you know? Here’s a shortlist of what you can expect your responsibilities would be:
Preparing slides from patient samples for examination.
Evaluate the quality slides for microscopic review.
Working closely with Cytotechnologists and Cytopathologists.
Using the latest and most innovative instruments and technology like Cytospin, Centrifuges, Hologic T2000, Hologic T5000, Automatic stainers, Automatic coverslippers, Slide printing and Hologic Imagers to deliver results that make a difference.
Processing specimens, particularly for patient clinical care and research.
Upholding the highest quality of care to the community you serve.
Collaborating with a talented team of ambitious individuals like you!
Choosing to go into this profession could be life-changing, not only for you but also for the patients you help so they receive the treatment they need to be in better health. As a Cytopathology lab technician, Diane Wieczorek, stated, “It’s a very rewarding experience since you know you are helping with a patient’s diagnosis and life. If I had to do it over again I wouldn’t change a thing, and as a lab technician that’s an achievement to myself.”
Clinical laboratories, like those you’ll find at Monter Cancer Center and our Imbert Cancer Center, serve a crucial role in the assessment and treatment of oncology patients. Our laboratories work together to deliver precise, accurate test results to ensure patients get the right treatment.
Meet some of the members of our oncology clinical laboratory team who are making a difference at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute, where we provide cancer care to more New Yorkers than any other healthcare provider.
La Donna’s decade of lab experience has provided a lot of insight into how a laboratory technologist can work collaboratively with the entire care team. Her peers and colleagues at Northwell share a remarkable commitment to excellence in patient care and patient experience.
La Donna was initially drawn to oncology lab work because of the pace and the emphasis on accuracy and precision. And at Northwell, she’s convinced that our commitment to emerging diagnostic technologies will keep her skills sharp while allowing her to actually contribute to the innovation taking place.
However, the greatest reward for La Donna is her sense of fulfillment and impact on the lives of others: “Your work makes a remarkable difference in patient care for one of the most vulnerable patient populations. Even though lab technologists are mostly unseen, I know that I’m a big part of each patient’s visit.”
Yolanda came to Northwell with more than two decades of lab technology experience. She was drawn to the Hematology/Oncology Department at Monter Cancer Center because she was attracted to the commitment and excellence that the department provides.
Delivering results for patients in oncology lab requires speed, precision and accuracy. “Workflow starts with the lab results. Without the baseline results, doctors cannot diagnose; pharmacists cannot prepare the dose for chemo treatment; nurses will be awaiting instructions; and patient treatments will be delayed.”
Innovation is key to deliver the best quality of care and Yolanda believes that Monter’s newly acquired automated analyzers expedite testing times and lead to fast results for patients. It’s a perfect match between resources and culture. “It’s fulfilling when a patient’s lab result shows progress after receiving treatments. It gives such satisfaction knowing that I’m a part of their healing process while working behind the scenes.”
Since she joined Northwell Health in June 2017, Esperanza has found countless opportunities to pursue her career interests and focus on the science of the human disease processes. This passion drew her to the medical laboratory technologist role and has fueled her appreciation of the challenges she experiences at the Imbert Cancer Center.
Here her knowledge, skill sets and love of the science fit right in with Imbert’s unique mission and culture. “I love it here. It’s caring, professional, relaxing and great a place to come daily. The contribution each one of us makes creates a mountain of knowledge and significant difference impacting the care and treatment of patients.”
As the lead technologist within her department, Esperanza also mentors staff and collaborates with team members throughout the system. “Every day renews my professional commitment and intense compassion for our patients in support of an extremely caring and innovative, institution of Northwell Health.”
Peter joined Northwell in December 2016 at Long Island Jewish Medical Center as a supervisor in the hematology laboratory. He transferred to Imbert Cancer Center in April 2019 because he was drawn to oncology care and the ability to impact cancer patients directly. Compared to other employers, Northwell stands out in Peter’s mind because “they care more about the patients and their issues. They also treat the employees with respect, and admire our diversity.”
Hired as an oncology lab manager, Peter appreciates the fact that the facility is close-knit and personal. This provides him with the opportunity to help out with the practice side, the treatment side and the laboratory. He can see and experience how each section of our facility comes together to do what’s right for the patient.
“My favorite aspect of my job is greeting the patients each and every day and to personally see how they are doing. It’s also working with a great team that has the same caring attributes that I do.”
An Appointment With: Dr. Dwayne Breining, Executive Director, Northwell Health Labs
Starting his Northwell Health career as the director of Lab/Pathology at LIJ Valley Stream Hospital 13 years ago, Dr. Dwanye Breining held that title at multiple Northwell hospitals before coming to our Core Laboratory. Now as executive director of the Northwell Laboratories, he leads the talented team that coordinates laboratory testing for our new Core Laboratory at the Center for Advanced Medicine (CFAM), the new Core Microbiology Laboratory at Little Neck Parkway, and the 43 hospital laboratories that rely on our laboratories for reference testing. Northwell Labs is also responsible for testing for physician offices, nursing homes, the Department of Health, clinical trials, urgent care centers and more.
We sat down with Dr. Breining to discuss the growth of careers within Northwell Labs.
What types of careers are available within Northwell Labs?
While I think everyone is aware that we employ many MD & DO pathologists, as well as PhDs, laboratory technologists, and phlebotomists, not everyone knows that we also have people in sales and finance, as well as numerous IT specialists, data analysts, customer service representatives, materials management personnel and many delivery vehicle operators, and even a pharmacist. It is indeed a very big department, and we are a 24/7/365 operation – laboratory services never stop.
What makes our Labs at Northwell unique?
I like to think that we combine the best of both worlds: the high-efficiency of a commercial lab-type setting with the personal touch and hands-on engagement of your local hospital lab that knows you as a patient, and your physician as a colleague. As the largest nonprofit health system lab in the country, we have access to the most advanced medical testing technology available, including the largest Roche chemistry automation line in North America at the CFAM lab and the largest Kiestra automated microbiology system at the Little Neck Lab.
We are recognized internationally as an innovator in the laboratory industry, not just on the technology side but also in the business arena through forming unique partnerships with other health systems such as the one we formed with NYC Health & Hospitals, in which we also serve as the Core Laboratory for their 18 hospitals and affiliated clinics. Another unique innovation we just launched, and are especially proud of, is LabFly. This is an Uber-like app, available for both iOS and Android devices, to have our phlebotomy services come to you, in your home or office at whatever time is convenient, for a low convenience fee. We are seeing rapidly growing interest in this type of service.
Why should Bio/Chem students who are unsure of what they want to do as a career explore the clinical lab field?
The level of fulfillment and sense of purpose one derives from working within healthcare in general, and knowing that the work you do directly affects the well-being of our community, is second to none, as any healthcare professional can attest. In the lab tech arena specifically, you will never be bored, as there are over 30 different tech sub-specialty areas in which to train, which creates many opportunities for career advancement. There is regular interaction with colleagues from all aspects of the lab, and also with physicians, office and hospital staff, and even school students and the general public at times. In addition, many of our Laboratory Information System computer specialists started out as lab techs, and are now trained and regularly installing and troubleshooting the highly advanced medical information systems that make modern healthcare run.
Why is Northwell an employer of choice for lab professionals?
Because of our demanding position within a large, leading healthcare system, we will always be at the cutting edge of clinical laboratory medicine. There are abundant opportunities for career evolution and advancement, and our staff can choose to partake in as much as they like. We work hard to create a comfortable and collegial work environment (after all, we all spend almost half our waking hours at work) because we want to attract and retain the best of the best.
Where do you see the future of clinical laboratory sciences evolving?
The future of the lab industry is incredibly bright. New testing technology keeps coming along faster than we can automate the simpler testing, and it is always a challenge to have enough techs coming on-board to keep up with it. In addition, we are already seeing opportunities for the lab to step more forward in healthcare, and participate in things like patient risk assessment, care coordination and escalation, and population health, especially given an aging population., We expect these trends to continue well into the future.
Explore clinical laboratory careers at Northwell Health
Clinical Laboratory Careers at Northwell’s Automated Lab
Watch the video below to discover why our laboratory technologists love working in our innovative automated laboratory; home of the largest Roche automated line of its kind in the U.S. and one of the largest labs in the world.
Take a tour of Northwell’s brand-new automated lab in Lake Success, NY. The 101,000 square-foot facility has 84,000 square feet of clinical space, including the largest chemistry and hematology automated line of its kind in North America.
Clinical Laboratory Careers in Microbiology
Hear from Ebru, a clinical laboratory technologist, about working at the brand new Microbiology Laboratory at Northwell Health Labs in the video below.
Northwell’s Brand-New Microbiology Laboratory
Tour our brand new Microbiology lab in Little Neck, NY which primarily performs microbiology tests, including molecular diagnostics, from local hospitals, clinics and physician offices, incorporating the latest technology and advanced robotic testing systems.
Day in the life: A specimen and the laboratory professionals who help diagnose outcomes at Core Lab
When you get blood drawn, there are a number of professionals who interact with your specimen to get the results necessary for continuing your care. From the phlebotomist who draws your blood to the clinical laboratory scientist (CLS) who analyzes your result, clinical laboratory professionals are the backbone of helping doctors to diagnose illness.
Northwell’s new state-of-the-art Core Lab performs 20 million routine tests that Northwell performs annually within our laboratories and hospitals. Spanning 101,000 square-feet, it’s the largest health system-based lab in the region and the largest Roche chemistry and hematology line of its kind in North America.
We followed the route a specimen takes and met with the lab team members who play a vital role in the outcomes.
The Phlebotomist draws the specimen
Before any testing can occur, the specimen needs to be collected. Northwell’s phlebotomists meet with patients to draw their blood at the beginning of their care. “It’s the first step for everything medical,” says Bulah Martin, lead phlebotomist who has worked at Northwell for more than 10 years. Once the blood has been drawn, phlebotomists like Bulah let it clot before placing it in the centrifuge, scanning it in the system, and preparing it for transport. From there it’ll head to Core Lab for routine testing like abnormal cell screens and white blood cell counts.
The Transporter moves the specimen
After the blood is taken, the specimen has to travel from one of Northwell’s centers to our Core Lab. That’s where staff professionals who are transporters come in. Picking up the samples, they’re able to make sure that the specimens are delivered in a timely and safe manner. “It goes beyond driving and transporting specimens,” says Gavendra Kuarlall, route service representative, “we’re part of helping patients at the onset of their medical needs.”
Lab Accessioner processes the specimen
Now that the specimen has been delivered, it’s time for processing. Lab accessioners have the important job of entering the specimen’s information, verifying the information to ensure accuracy, and sorting it into the right department. “Making sure the samples are correct and accurate impacts the patient care,” says Claudia Coronado, a senior accessioner who has worked at Northwell for more than 11 years, “and we take pride in what we do.”
Once the specimen has been processed and sorted, runners get the specimens where they need to go. A runner at the Core Lab, however, won’t have much need to actually run. This state-of-the-art facility has two parallel automatic testing lines to efficiently transport specimens for the laboratory’s chemistry and hematology testing.
Clinical Laboratory Scientists analyze the specimen
Advanced robotics testing systems and automatic testing lines within departments like Hematology allow clinical laboratory scientists to focus on monitoring accuracy and quality. “I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field using my scientific knowledge,” says Kelly Kim, a technical specialist in Hematology, Coagulation and Analysis. “This field is perfect for putting both together.”
Blood Bank Technologists analyze the specimen
Certain testing may require interaction with a blood bank technologist, like Trisha Jaikaran, who tests the sample for blood type, blood screens, and antibody screens. At the Core Lab, they test mainly the OB-GYN patient population and work with the doctors and Client Services to deliver patients their results.
“Being part of the Core Lab, you have the opportunity to learn about the other side of patient care,” says Trisha who has worked at Northwell for nearly three years, “The knowledge you gain from the more experienced technologists is great. There’s a lot of theoretical work beyond just the automated tests – you’re learning something new every day. It keeps you on your toes.”
Lab Client Services team provides specimen testing updates
When the specimen is done with testing, it’s time for the patients to get their results. That’s where Client Services come in. This team acts as a liaison between the clinical laboratory and the doctors. Handling around 2,000 inbound calls a day, Client Services helps doctors who are looking for results, status updates, pick-ups, or additional information. Suzana Mathew, an educator who has worked in Client Services for six years, likens it to being a detective, “There can be a lot of mystery solving to get the right answers for the doctors. I enjoy the technical side where I can help doctors understand their results, track down the answers they need and assist with next steps.”
As an educator, Suzana works with new employees through their six months of training and offers support beyond that period. “Working in Client Services is a great place to start because as you grow, you learn about every part of the lab. It trains you to be a well-rounded professional.”
While getting blood results may seem simple, there are a lot of clinical laboratory team members working behind the scenes to ensure results are delivered accurately, timely, and safely. From sample to results, our laboratory professionals work together to deliver the best patient care possible.
Day in the life: Lab Technologist at Southside Hospital
Working as a laboratory technologist at Southside Hospital for 40 years, Emilie Moyse considers herself part of the evolution of lab. Emilie, or as her coworkers affectionately call her, Emmy, works 8am-4pm at Southside every Monday through Friday where her expertise and positive attitude have made her a staple to the clinical laboratory team.
To keep their skills sharp, Southside’s lab technologists rotate through the different departments on a weekly basis. This week, Emmy is working in Hematology where she’ll analyze blood samples and deliver lab results that will help doctors determine patient care. We followed her to see a day in a life as a Medical Laboratory Technologist (MLT) also known as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS) at Southside Hospital.
Arriving to the lab, Emmy likes to start each day by greeting each of her coworkers to set the mood for a good day. After putting on her lab coat, Emmy’s ready for the morning rounds.
Morning rounds for our doctors mean morning rounds for our lab! Specimens come in and are received by lab processors like Michelle Zambrano. Michelle processes and distributes the specimens from the floor and operating room to the laboratory technologists in different departments, such as Emmy in Hematology.
Differential slide means Emmy uses the microscope to identify white and red blood cell counts to help doctors deliver the right diagnoses to patients. “I love working in Hematology and learning more and more. It’s very manual and detail-oriented. I get excited to come to work and help the patients. I get to make sure the patients aren’t waiting for the results they need.”
Emmy relies on coworkers like fellow MLT, Geolina Turkonje, as much as she supports them. “Working together, we can accomplish a lot and I care for all of my coworkers like a big family. Southside has become my second home. I would encourage anyone to come here.” Emmy’s worked alongside Geolina for eight years – a friendship that’s helped the days pass quickly.
With the lab inside the hospital, it means that sometimes results are needed quickly. When a patient’s specimen comes in labeled “special handling” or “stat” the laboratory technologists know that they need to analyze the samples as quickly as possible. Doctors wait for critical lab results so that they can treat the patients. “Patients cannot wait,” says Emmy.
Luckily, Southside Hospital has a lot of innovative technology to help lab technologists get the quick results they need. “The most amazing thing here are our analyzers,” says Emmy, “I’m very proud and fortunate to see all the changes in technology we have. It’s good for the laboratory and patients – and it’s good for us too. We’re faster and more accurate. What used to take us a half hour now takes us five or ten minutes.”
Given her extensive experience, Emmy also spends a lot of time training within the lab. Here she oversees a new lab technologist, Stefani Gomez, as she prepares blood samples on slides. “Working here is a great opportunity,” says Emmy, “You have so much to learn and there are technologists who have been here a long time and are willing to help you.”
In between analyzing specimens, Emmy stops to pick up a ringing phone. “When everyone is so busy, you have to help each other out,” she explains. “Answering the phone when a clerk is busy not only helps them, but it’s important. The calls could be impacting patient care.”
“I’ve been here a long time and have seen a lot of change for the better,” says Emmy. “I feel very privileged to be here and be part of that evolution. Our leadership has made a big difference in the lab.” Leadership like Laurie Birnbaum, admin director of the Clinical Laboratory at Southside Hospital who Emmy stops to review metrics with before heading out for the day. “If you have a problem, you can tell Laurie and she will always help you. She’s always looking out for her employees and for the lab. She’s very considerate, caring and loving. We’re very lucky to have her as our director here.”
Join Emmy and the whole Clinical Laboratory team at Southside Hospital. Apply today!
On the cutting edge and a slice above the rest – Who is a Histotechnologist?
Every March 10th, we celebrate Histotechnology Professionals Day to help raise awareness about the laboratory field of Histotechnology. Despite never meeting patients, histotechnologists play a vital healthcare role in helping patients receive the right diagnosis and care. These laboratory professionals are helping save lives one slide at a time.
But what does a histotechnologist do? To understand the profession, you must first understand Histology.
What is Histology?
Histology is the study of the microanatomy of cells, tissues, and organs as seen through a microscope.
A histotechnologist has advanced training in how and why specimens are collected and processed for testing. This expertise qualifies the histotechnologist to manage even unexpected situations in the laboratory, such as solving technical or instrument problems, understanding the underlying health and disease causes of unusual test results, and evaluating new laboratory techniques and procedures. Histotechnicians and histotechnologists must work quickly, as they are frequently under pressure to deliver results while the patient is in surgery. They are commonly referred to as “histotechs”.
What does a histotech do?
When the pathology lab receives the patient’s tissue sample, it is first examined and dissected by a pathologists’ assistant who will submit tissue samples in a fixative (usually formalin) to the Histology Lab for processing. Some histotechs are also able to gross small specimen biopsies for processing. This process includes a dictation of their “naked” eye description of the tissue which appears in the patient’s final report.
Colleen S. preparing to gross renal biopsies for processing.
Ana V. grossing biopsy specimens.
Histotechs work around the clock and play a large role in saving lives, but do it in an orderly fashion. The first step in tissue processing is to run the tissue sample through a series of alcohols to remove any water, clear the tissue in xylene and infiltrate the tissue sample in paraffin (wax material). The Histotech will then embed the tissue in melted paraffin, creating a “paraffin block”, which hardens to room temperature.
George S. loading cassettes in the tissue processor
Lori A. loading cassettes in the tissue processor.
Patrick F. embedding the tissue in cassettes.
Rachel R. embedding the tissue in cassettes.
The next step is for the paraffin blocks to be cut/sliced on a microtome, also known as microtomy, at paper-thin or less slices (measured in microns). This process will create a ribbon of tissue sections which is floated on a temperature-controlled, heated waterbath. The histotech will then pick up the tissue sections, placing them on a glass slide and routinely stained with special dyes that make the cell details visible under the microscope. The pathologist can now microscopically examine the tissue on the slide and determine if disease is present, or if it has spread, and help the clinician decide the best course of treatment for the patient.
Aparna G. cutting ribbons of tissue on microtome (microtomy).
Yana M. cutting ribbons of tissue on microtome (microtomy).
Cryotomy, a frozen section procedure to perform a rapid microscopic analysis/diagnosis of a fresh tissue sample, is also performed by a histotech. These samples are sent from the surgeon in the operating room, while the patient is still under anesthesia, allowing the pathologist to provide an immediate analysis/diagnosis to aid the surgeon on how to proceed with the surgery.
Histotechs can also perform more complex techniques such as enzyme histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy. A histotechnologist can also teach and be a supervisor in a laboratory.
LIJ Immunohistochemistry Lab: Guillermo P., Perry A., Steve M., Danielle L
Histotechs will tell you that their work is an art form. They value precision and work with knives, chemicals and glass slides, as well as fragile, delicate instruments that require careful monitoring.
While patients do not see or speak with the lab team helping behind the scenes, the connection is still very meaningful for the histotechs. They care about the production side of their work and the quality of the slides. All histotechs will tell you they treat every specimen as if it belongs to one of their own family members waiting for their test results.
Thank you to all of Northwell’s histotechnologists!
Northwell’s Kyle Nevins is a Top Five Finalist of ASCP’s 40 Under Forty. Here’s Why.
We’re proud to announce that Northwell Health’s very own Kyle Nevins was selected as a 40 Under Forty Top Five through a combination of public voting and committee selection by American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). This program recognizes members under the age of 40 for their achievements and leadership qualities that are making an impact on pathology and laboratory medicine. We have no doubt Kyle was acknowledged for her Truly Ambitious work!
Kyle’s ambition began at a young age. “As a child, I have always loved and excelled in math and science,” she stated, “After winning the school science fair in 4th grade and getting the opportunity to visit the Brookhaven National Laboratory, I was hooked and knew a path in science was for me.”
Prior to joining Northwell Health, Kyle worked as a per diem Medical Technologist with a Northwell employee, who encouraged Kyle to apply to Northwell. “I have been fortunate in my career at Northwell and have had the opportunity to work among extremely insightful and knowledgeable mentors.”
Following that advice, she joined Northwell Health in January 2016 as a QA/QC Specialist in the New Patient Testing (Point of Care) department at Core Laboratory. There, her team of 5 specialists managed the laboratory oversight for 150+ physician office labs, imaging centers, patient service centers and urgent care labs. During this time, Kyle grew in her position. She advises anyone starting off their career to, “be a sponge, take in as much insight and advice that others are willing to give to you. Everyone has something to share and teach, provided you are willing to learn and listen.”
In December 2016, Kyle’s ambitions grew stronger as she advanced to the Laboratory Supervisor position in the new Management Services Organization (MSO) group. The MSO group’s primary responsibilities relate to performing laboratory audits at the 20+ Northwell Health laboratories where they help ensure readiness for all upcoming regulatory inspections and provide laboratory management oversight and consulting services for contracted non-Northwell facilities.
Kyle has found success and growth inside of Northwell Health labs. “From creating posters for presentation at conferences such as AACC and ASCP, to helping validate and open a new Ebola testing laboratory, and participating in nationwide CAP inspections, the opportunities for growth are endless.” We are proud of Kyle’s recognition as a 40 Under Forty Top Five, and look forward to seeing how she continues to push the limits of the labs at Northwell Health.
Find your place inside Northwell Health’s labs here.
We’re breaking ground on a groundbreaking Microbiology laboratory
Northwell Health and NYC Health + Hospitals have started work on a brand new shared lab! The $47.7 million, 36,000 square-foot lab in Little Neck will primarily perform microbiology tests and will provide enhanced service levels to the physicians and patients in our community while bringing additional jobs to the city! The new lab will be the largest, nonprofit, hospital-operated lab network in the nation and will be processing over 50 million tests annually. This means enticing career opportunities for lab professionals to be the first inside this new lab!
The Microbiology lab is in an exciting phase of development. Northwell Health will be implementing cutting-edge technology in our transition to this new space. It will be the first lab in the country with two total lab automation system lines (TLS), which includes automatic specimen processing and digital imaging and to supplement classical microbiology methods, the lab uses MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. This new automated Micro equipment will be known as Kiestra.
“Having Kiestra at Little Neck Parkway will introduce a new beginning to the Microbiology World with new automation,” said Ebru Turk, Microbiology Technologist.
This new lab is just another way that Northwell Health is rising to the challenge that we’re Made for. We are actively recruiting enthusiastic and capable technologists to help us realize this project to its full potential. Explore opportunities inside this brand new, state-of-the-art facility here.
Photo: Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories is pictured on the far right.
An appointment with: Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories
Northwell Health maintains the preeminent laboratory system in New York. With a state-of-the-art Central Lab and 15 hospital-based labs, we perform 27,000,000 tests per year. The lab system is also known for its innovative technology (including the first fully robotic lab systems in the country) and exceptional growth opportunities with the construction of a new 110,000 sq. ft. general laboratory and state-of-the-art, 40,000 sq. ft. microbiology laboratory. Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories is driving much of this exciting growth. Get to know Mike and his vision for lab leadership!
How did you get into Laboratory Administration?
It was more of a career evolution. I started working in a lab, but as I learned about all the opportunities available, I decided to become more well rounded. I learned about sales by being a sales rep at Core Labs. I learned about finance and the business by working with Bob Stallone, our VP of Labs. I learned about how small, medium and large tertiary hospitals work by becoming administrative director of four of our hospital labs. I learned about project management by running projects and getting my Project Management Certification.
How did you know Northwell Health was the right career destination for you?
Northwell Health is the major player in the region. I wanted to be part of something big and I am amazed at how the system continues to grow. I can make a difference because I have been given that freedom to be innovative, take risks and move out of my comfort zone into new areas, new experiences and new ways to deliver care.
What would you tell someone who is just starting their career in this field?
Be the best at what you are doing, whether you’re a lab tech, accountant, environmental worker, nurse, client services, billing rep, etc. Be the best at whatever you do and this will lead to the next challenge. Then, be the best at that.
What characteristics make a great leader at Northwell Health?
A great leader creates and communicates the vision to the organization. Great leaders surround themselves with great people because they know they can’t be successful alone.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to move into leadership?
Get to know the leaders you admire and respect and let them know where you want to be. You must show interest or you will be overlooked! If you show interest and have the ability, you will get noticed and excel.
How does Northwell Health encourage its employees to progress in their fields?
It’s important to be able to follow a clear map so you know where to go and the steps it takes to get there. Northwell Health Labs has formal career ladders to guide staff and help them reach their goals.
What would you tell an employee who is interested in being a mentor?
If you’re a mentor, be a resource, a teacher and a guide. Do not try to change the person. Let them be who they are and put their own creativity and spin on it. The role of a mentor is to be a guide and resource and help make a better leader than you were. That’s the goal – I want to help someone be better than me.
What exciting developments are happening at Northwell Health’s labs?
For me, it’s the opening of our new Labs at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Little Neck. These two new state of the art labs will be a combined 140,000 square feet. It is a culmination of our growth over the last 20 years. It gives us the ability to perform 5-6 times our current volume.
What can someone expect working at one of the nation’s largest laboratory systems, that they won’t find anywhere else?
When you combine our size with our culture of innovation and excellence, you’ll find opportunity that you can’t find anywhere else. If you have talent, drive and the desire to succeed, you will be successful here.
What’s the single biggest reason to work at Northwell Health labs?
You will be part of the best, most forward thinking health system lab in the country. You will get out of the “basement” and deliver the right information to the right people at the right time to change behavior of patients and providers to improve care and reduce cost.
At Northwell Health our laboratory professionals push boundaries to go that extra mile.
“Northwell Health has the best laboratory teams in the state of New York. They provide you with lots of opportunities to flourish and grow.”
–Munazza Naseem, Pathologist Assistant, Northwell Health Laboratories
Northwell Health leads with innovation and breaks with convention. We continually look to advance our laboratories. The greatest component of delivering exceptional laboratory services begins with our employees. We will provide you with the opportunity to spread your wings and define your healthcare career.
During Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, we honor those whose clinical expertise and compassionate commitment to excellence drive our exceptional care forward. Our people are inspired by the knowledge that behind every test and every procedure is a person who deserves our best at all times.
Throughout the week, we’re showing appreciation for our medical laboratory professionals with hot breakfast buffets, ice cream, games, and more. Our employees also celebrate by finding unique ways to give back to the community through events like a charity ZUMBA class and paint nights. To add an extra element of fun during this special week, employees wear their favorite team jerseys. These are just some ways that we are recognizing the contributions and impact that laboratory professionals have at Northwell Health.
Northwell Health is where the talent, expertise and knowledge of our laboratory professionals impacts our patients’ lives and contributes significantly to improving healthcare outcomes. Soon, we’ll make an even greater impact on our patient care. By 2018, our centralized laboratory we will be the largest hospital-based integrated laboratory in the country performing over 55 million lab tests annually. This translates into tremendous growth opportunities.
“When you work in a Northwell Health laboratory, you know you are connected with other lab professionals who are there to help one another.”
–Young Choi, Lead Medical Technologist, Lenox Hill Greenwich Village
“Northwell Health gives me endless opportunities to expand and improve upon my skills, abilities and knowledge that I can then use to benefit the patients and communities we serve.”
–John Shao, Medical Technologist, Northern Westchester Hospital
We know the value of providing our employees with the right culture to develop their professional goals.
When it comes to your career, the right work environment is what makes the difference.
Make a difference, behind the scenes.
As a laboratory professional, you know that your contributions matter. Northwell Health is a healthcare provider that strives to enhance quality patient outcomes by continually assessing how health care is provided. The vision of our laboratory service line is exactly how we achieve our mission and goals.
Your expertise and knowledge will touch our patients’ lives and contribute significantly to our integrated healthcare team. By 2018, we will be the largest hospital-based integrated laboratory in the country performing over 55 million lab tests annually.
“Every specimen is a life to us. So even though we’re behind the scenes, everyone in the lab is valued as a highly skilled, dedicated member of the healthcare team.”
— Donna Manchisi, Director of Lab Marketing and Education
Advance your career, your way.
At Northwell Health, we are committed to helping our employees define and pursue the career path that is right for them. If you have a passion for management, we’ll provide the resources and support to help get you there.
If you want to remain in a hands-on technology role, we will provide you with the continuing education you need to enhance your skills.
We have the opportunity, and with a growth rate of 20% per year, the question isn’t how you’ll grow, it’s when will you start.
Come and join our team. Experience it for yourself.
With 16 hospital labs and our centralized state-of-the art laboratory, we have positions on Long Island, the five boroughs and Westchester – your career is calling.
What do you need to be successful?
To succeed as a laboratory professional at Northwell Health, you need passion, drive and the ability to see the bigger picture. Our standards are high, for patient care, and for the employees who justify our mission. You have to be able to multitask and be extremely organized and detail-oriented. You must be a strong team player, but also able to work independently.
“We’re looking for people with passion, people who go above and beyond while always putting the patient first. We want people who understand that there’s a person on the other side of the tube.”
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