Hospital Lab Success


Hamilton County Hospital is proud to announce the lab recently underwent a CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment) survey and received zero deficiencies. Hospital administrator, Kelly Hatcher said, “This is a huge win for us, we have struggled for over a year with staff and other factors in the lab and we could not be prouder of this team for coming in and doing what they did, It’s phenomenal!”
Hatcher said, “The lab needed a lot of work, number one, it requires certain certifications, and number two, people need to possibly live in Syracuse to work in the lab. We have had people come in and say absolutely not!” she said, “In this role as administrator, I have learned about lab more than I ever thought I would have had to, with our team, new lab manager, Dino Potato, Pat and Harriet Riley’s granddaughter Kayleigh Sharpe, and Assistant Lab Manager, Mike Hughes, who relocated to Syracuse from Pratt where he worked 21 years, I am thrilled we finally have a solid team in these three individuals.”
Potato, pronounced Po-tah-toe, medical scientist and clinical lab technician began working in November 2022. Originally from Brisbane Queensland, Australia, a town of around seven million people, he was tired of the large city, the high rises, traffic, and fast pace. “I always wanted to live in the countryside,” said Potato.
He began researching visas to work in America, “I now have an unlimited visa, I only have to renew it each year,” he explained. His first job in the United States was in Sioux City, IA. as a medial scientist. “I was working with my supervisor doing research, which is not a stable job, and we did not receive any grants, so I moved to Arkansas. His role was doing a lot of corrective actions, fixing deficiencies, basically the same job as a medical scientist, and then found an opportunity here in Syracuse. I thought it was a great small town, so I accepted the job.”
They told me the history of the lab and the many deficiencies to fix. “I have to be honest with you, this is the most challenging lab that I have worked in,” said Potato, “I’m so thankful I have a great team, Kayleigh Sharp, and especially Mike Hughes who has helped me a lot, he is good working at the bench, training lab personnel when it comes to competency, in addition to repairing machinery,” said Potato.
Potato was notified of the upcoming inspection and given four to six weeks to prepare. “That was not enough time to fix everything, it was a fast transition, but I did my best with a lot of help from Kayleigh and Mike.” 
The inspector reviewed everything, the equipment, procedures, and everything they were doing, “The inspector allowed the inspection from the time our team started, not the past, because we were unable to present documentation from the past, there was none available. I would guess the lack of personnel accounted for the deficiencies or failures in the past.” 
“I was not expecting a perfect score or zero deficiencies” said Potato, “It takes a great team to be successful and it’s not just us, even the business office and the rest of the facility helped us be successful.” 
Hatcher added proudly, “This was all of them, me along with other leaders, have tried to help keep the lab as functional as possible, finding those people who were willing to come into our situation and not run for the hill! People who are willing to say okay let’s do this. This hospital team has 150% done that!” 
The HCH lab is a moderately complex lab which means less extensive. Potato explains, “In layman’s terms, we are a small laboratory, doing basic lab tests, CBC, CMP blood chemistry, glucose, blood gas RSV, cholesterol, urinalysis, coagulation, pregnancy tests, COVID, mono, to name a few. “Soon we hope to do more such as A1C and TSH,” said Potato. 
Hughes wants the community to know that the lab is functioning well, and they no longer have to defer labs or patients to Tribune. Radiology technologist, Nikki Harris said, “It’s a win for all of us, we are so happy they’re here, if lab is on divert, we’re all on divert, we are really appreciative of all three of them.” 
Hughes adds, “We are not trying to bring in anything the doctors won’t use, we don’t want to waste money and their time and we are diligent when it comes to picking tests and procedures that only applies to the community.” As an outsider, he said, “I had no idea what you had ten, five, or even two years ago, I am striving to make it the best it has ever been.”
Although there were no citations, Potato said they still have some homework to do to keep the lab functioning efficiently. Mike added, “I have been very busy since moving to Syracuse, and now that the survey is done, we still have the bumps in the road, calibrating all the machinery to keep it functioning efficiently, striving to provide the best quality lab services we can.” 




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