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Local lab assistant raises awareness and appreciation for behind the scenes workers

“It’s a unique profession … we may not be as prolific as doctors and nurses, but we are proud of the work we do."
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The lab staff from Banff Mineral Springs Hospital (L-R): Susan Blonski, Mardi Elliott, Charlotte McWilliams, Rosalee Johnson, Jenna Serelo, Dionne Harrish, Elan Hudym and Tony Lo. PHOTO SUBMITTED

BOW VALLEY – Where does your throat swab go when you leave the doctor?

It is questions like this and many more that medical laboratory technicians wanted to answer during national medical laboratory week, from April 16 to May 2, to increase awareness and education for the behind-the-scenes profession.

“It’s a unique profession … we may not be as prolific as doctors and nurses, but we are proud of the work we do,” said Dionne Harrish, medical laboratory assistant at Banff Mineral Springs Hospital.

Not interacting with patients as often as other frontline workers, or sometimes at all, Harrish said medical laboratory teams play a critical role in helping doctors diagnose illness bases on their findings.

With different professionals in the medical laboratory world, the technologists use a variety of instruments to analyze tissue samples, blood and other body fluids as part of the diagnostic procedure. While the medical laboratory assistants often collect the samples and work under the supervision of the medical lab techs.

The lab workers specialize in clinical chemistry, microbiology, hematology, transfusion science and histology – so if you ever had a throat swab, blood test or gave a urine sample, these behind the scenes workers played a key part.

“Lab workers have a symbiotic relationship with physicians,” Harrish said.

Running since 1985, the national medical laboratory appreciation week is sponsored by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science as way to celebrate its members while raising awareness of their role in health care.

While the local lab tech could not speak to the current global pandemic the province is facing, the one thing Harrish could say for sure is she is grateful for the love shown to the lab workers in the Bow Valley.

“We have had a tremendous outpouring of love,” Harrish said.

The lab assistant said people can continue to show their appreciation by staying safe and staying at home. 

“We love to see a healthy community.”