Medical Laboratory Professionals

Originally posted on April 29, 2016.

We couldn’t do our work without them

This week, April 24-30, is Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. It is an opportunity to learn more about how lab professionals enhance health and save lives, and to publicly thank those with whom we work for their caring professionalism and crucial role in assuring that the milk we dispense is safe. Here is a list of our milk bank’s particular appreciation, in order of appearance:

The last step in our donor screening process is a blood test for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis. Since MMBNE began screening donors and pasteurizing milk in 2011, we have relied on the Rhode Island Blood Center to test our donors’ blood and to communicate the (usually negative) results to us – always in a timely and professional manner. Karen Veltri, RIBC’s supervisor of client services, has been our wonderful guide into the world of lab work, answering our many questions, and trouble-shooting problem labs. As we expand and grow, we are beginning to work with other labs as well. We are so appreciative to Karen and her colleagues at RIBC and our new labs.

Once we have received negative blood tests back for our donors, they send us their milk. We test our milk samples, both before and after pasteurization, at the Newton Wellesley Hospital Laboratory Services, a couple of miles away. Like their colleagues at RIBC, the lab professionals at NWH send us accurate, complete lab reports every day, assuring that we dispense safe milk to those who rely on it for their smallest patients and children. Sue Manning, lab manager, and Wendy Daigle, customer service manager, are always available to answer questions and educate us about nuances of milk cultures we never knew existed.

Our own laboratory professionals, Lynn Duong and Sabrina Brittle, work cheerfully, efficiently and so carefully every day. Their work is complex and demanding. Logging in milk, Lynn and Sabrina record donor numbers, pump and expiration dates, while checking each donation against the donor mother’s record regarding medications and other health indicators. They carefully thaw, pour, pasteurize, cool, and refreeze the milk, send samples for testing, and assure that all milk is dispensed only after we have received back our test results. They also have the difficult, and fortunately infrequent, task of discarding precious milk that has not “passed” the lab tests.

We receive numerous requests for milk for research projects on the many qualities of human milk. Lynn and Sabrina prepare and ship milk samples according to the specifications of each study.

To all of the laboratory professionals who work diligently and carefully to make our milk safe, and who answer our many questions with humor, patience and care, thank you. This week and every week.