Freeman Medical Focus — Lab Services

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JOPLIN, Mo. — You may not think of a phlebotomist as playing a big role in keeping patients healthy. But much of the time, their work drawing blood for lab results is the basis of a crucial diagnosis.

Karen Watts, Freeman Health System, Director Lab Services, said, “So phlebotomist are the people who go around and take blood from patients.”

And that one sample can tell your doctor just about anything.

“We have a fully functional chemistry department that runs the gamut from therapeutic drug levels like making myosin that fight off infections to proponents for people who come in with maybe chest pain, and we have a hematology department that does your CBC so that you know how many red cells you have or how many white cells you have to fight off an infection, we can run pretty much any tests you would need to diagnose and treat a patient.”

It takes 50 phlebotomists to cover normal hospital operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And then the pandemic took hold, adding a new element to the job.

“Plus COVID was a huge impact on this staff in the main lab to run the specimens. Most of the specimens for COVID came through the drive thru COVID collection site, then they would come to us to process and either run the tests or to send out to a reference lab, depending on what test was ordered.”

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