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Q & A With A Quality Assurance Lead

June 25, 2019

Pam is the Quality Assurance Lead for the InterHospital Laboratory Partnership (IHLP) She has worked at HPHA since 1998!

Favourite Colour: Purple / Favourite Food: Mexican, but I much prefer a daiquiri over a margarita.

Tell us about your first day of work at HPHA? I started at HPHA on June 8, 1998. I got lost driving the back roads from Seaforth to Stratford, having to backtrack through the city to get to the hospital. I was still pretty green with only a year of experience under my belt. I remember a colleague telling me “I don't care how they did it at your old job, this is how we do it here.” I think from them on I was determined to ‘buck' the system and challenge old thinking. Over the 20 years I have worked at HPHA I have mellowed, but I think I still have a reputation to speak my mind.

What made you enter your field of work? My aunts were lab technologists, one medical, the other chemical. I always thought what they did was interesting and meaningful. I started my career as a frontline lab technologist in Corpus Christi, Texas. About a year and a half later I landed a job in Stratford and was able to return home. I also worked at Clinton Public Hospital for a few years as well. Graeme Johnston suggested I enroll in the Clinical Laboratory Quality Manager course offered by Michener Institute, which I completed in 2004. In 2006, I was offered a temporary position as Quality Manager to get through our first Ontario Laboratory Accreditation peer assessment. The job became permanent and I'm still doing it today.

What do you love most about your job? I enjoy this work because I am in a position to influence lab policy to ensure regulatory and quality standards are met. I like collaborating with other disciplines to improve workflow. I also thoroughly enjoy the lab team I work with. I am in a very unique position compared to other quality managers; I am not just auditing and writing procedures, I am brainstorming staffing solutions and on RFP teams; lots of diversity and opportunities to learn.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HPHA. The project I am most proud of is the implementation of high sensitivity troponin and the standardized algorithms for hs-TnI and conventional troponin (cTnI) run. The change in results over a three-hour time period will typically diagnose infarction earlier than with the previous testing models. It was a real collaborative effort with physicians and nursing to implement both the test and the algorithms.

When you tell people what you do how do they react? I had someone comment recently that they didn't realize I was so smart. I guess I had them fooled!? Most people think I look after the quality control program for the lab. Quality control is typically reagent ensuring that instrumentation or methodology is working as expected. What I do is quality management, ensuring that the lab has their policies and procedures documented and auditing or monitoring non-conforming events to determine if we do what we say we do.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I have three children, aged six, Amie, Ben and Cory. I learn more lessons from my kids that I can apply in work situations than any book I have ever read on communication or management.