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It's More than Wow - No More Ow!

It's More than Wow - No More Ow!

A negative experience having her blood drawn as a child has haunted Lynn Todd for years. As the laboratory director at Campbell County Health, Lynn had to relive those memories every time a child came in for blood work.

"I had a horrible experience as a child," Lynn said. "I was terrified, so I have tried to do things to make things better for others."

From stickers to suckers and stuffed animals to festive artwork, Lynn had tried many ways to help soothe the children who use the hospital's laboratory services in Gillette. While those distractions helped some, Lynn still struggled every time she heard a child cry.

"It's stressful for the parents to leave with crying kids," Lynn said.

When Lynn met a local black light artist, the two quickly hatched a plan to turn one of the hospital's lab rooms from a blank slate under regular lighting into a jungle scene under the black light to completely transform the patient experience.

"We just did a little bit at a time and the first room turned out so well," Lynn said. "The response we got was amazing."

Lynn was amazed to watch the difference when children came into a plain room to receive a vaccination or have their blood drawn, but then were immediately asked if they were ready to enter the jungle. With just a flip of a switch the tears were instantly gone as the children gazed around the magic scene.

"It's amazing how much it helps the kids," Lynn said. "It's so much more than I had ever thought it could be."

In 2013, a second lab room underwent a makeover to become known as the "ocean room." From a sea turtle to stingrays, patients are transported from a medical procedure to a magical underwater world. Even the typical looking cowboys in a picture hung on the wall in the normal lighting are transformed into deep sea divers under the black light.

"I wanted something totally different from what we had in Wyoming," Lynn said. "I just wanted something to transform you away. The room is just absolutely magical."

Now when children come to the hospital instead of a choice between a Sponge Bob or Strawberry Shortcake Band-Aid, they get to choose between the ocean room or the jungle room.

When Christina (Christy) Mayard, a phlebotomist at the lab, brings her grandchildren for blood draws, they're excited. Christina said the children are no longer focused on the pain, but instead anticipate checking out what has now been dubbed the "Wow" rooms.

"The black lights made a big difference," Christina said. "It helps them to relax. It makes it so much easier for them."

As a lab assistant, Christina said she enjoys the room as much as the patients. And she said she sees the difference is makes for the patients every day.

"It's a very nice addition to our hospital," Christina said. "This is very relaxing, even for the adults. It's an amazing thing we did."

CCH has even added more "Wow" rooms in the surgery department. Since introducing the "Wow" rooms at the hospital, word has gotten out about the new patient experience CCH is offering its users. In 2014 Lynn spoke about the "Wow" rooms at Mayo Clinic and has since presented at other medical professional conferences. Lynn has also started her own business to help other medical facilities transform their patient areas as well—From Ow to Wow.

"It's just so unexpected," Lynn said. "It's not anything you'd ever expect. It's such a distraction technique."

April 24-30 is National Medical Laboratory Professionals week, an annual recognition of the laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in health care. Lab professionals perform and evaluate medical laboratory tests that correctly detect, diagnose, and help prevent diseases, thus saving countless lives every day. Since these pros often work behind the scenes, few people know how they aid physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, every day. The Lab currently performs more than 240 different tests and collects more than 450 others to be sent to outside reference labs. The laboratory also serves as a reference lab for many local physician and veterinary offices. To give you an idea, our Lab staff took care of 35,696 complete blood counts (CBC), 19,704 medical profiles, and 12,192 wellness profiles in 2015. Overall, the Lab conducted more than 1,022,000 tests in 2015. To learn more about the CCMH Laboratory, and the tests they perform, please visit www.cchwyo.org/Lab.

Check out these videos of patients experiencing the rooms for themselves!