Alice Hyde's Laboratory Team Puts Patients First


Since reopening our non-essential patient care services in late April -- about one month after shutting down many services during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York State – things have looked different for nearly every patient and employee at Alice Hyde.

From our new patient experience at providers’ offices, to extra precautions being taken within the hospital to ensure everyone’s health and safety, we have completely reimagined the way we deliver care in our community. That includes departments like Alice Hyde’s Laboratory, which provides essential diagnostic and support services for patients and providers, and is a critical point of contact in many patients’ care.

Since Alice Hyde’s reopening the lab has also been a veritable bee hive of activity, often with more than 100 patients per day receiving blood draws or other diagnostic testing. Donna Labombard, who handles scheduling and as the lab’s lead secretary is often the first point of contact for patients when they arrive at Alice Hyde, said navigating the high volumes presents a daily challenge for the team.

“Since COVID a majority of our patients are scheduled,” said Donna, “so when unscheduled patients come in, it throws things off. You’re trying to balance your appointments and balance the walk-ins; it’s challenging.”

Enter phlebotomist Michaela Gale, who joined Alice Hyde’s lab team about two months ago. Michaela, a Malone native, has wasted no time making her mark with patients at Alice Hyde – or in becoming a great team member.

 “Michaela is great. She’s good to work with, she’s warm and she cares for our patients; you can see it,” said Donna. “To have a seasoned, experienced phlebotomist is a big help. It’s a connection, truly. You have to have a team commitment, and you have to have each other’s back, which we definitely do.”

It was early October, during a particularly high-volume day, when Michaela’s Patients First attitude raised eyebrows among her team members. The six-year phlebotomist performed 107 lab draws herself, during a single shift – a feat members of the lab team said is remarkable. On a normal day, a phlebotomist like Michaela might do half, or about 60, lab draws.

“Drawing over 100 patients in a shift is remarkable, even for a veteran phlebotomist,” said regional director Todd Harrington. “Michaela is a welcome addition to our lab team here at Alice Hyde.”

Michaela, for her part, remembers that day as busier-than-normal, but says she was just focused on making sure each patient was cared for in a timely manner. Working with Donna, Michaela said, she knew they could handle whatever challenges the day presented.

“It definitely put my skills to the test,” she said, “but I was just doing my thing: getting everyone in and out as quickly as I could.”

Michaela’s key to success? Connecting with her patients. Everyone is different, she said, and understanding how to make each patient’s draw easier and more comfortable means asking questions and listening to what folks have to say.

“You have to be right on the dot with everything, and be very particular with what you do,” she said. “Making sure you listen to what the patients are telling you is key.”