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CCH Legend WOWs organization through innovative approaches to patient care

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
CCH Legend WOWs organization through innovative approaches to patient care

When Lynn Todd was 10 years old, she attended a Medical Explorers program offered at the hospital to learn about healthcare careers. From that point on, Lynn knew she was destined for a career in health care.

“I LOVE the Lab,” says Lynn as her eyes get as big as a child’s eyes in a candy store. She says it with so much enthusiasm that you believe it. It’s because of this enthusiasm that Lynn has been chosen as one of Campbell County Health’s Legend Award winners for 2016. For those who don't know, CCH defined a Legend as, "those people who have left a permanent impression on our minds because of their deeds and actions. Ongoing demonstration of hard work, compassion, and a reputation for greatness make someone a legend."

Lynn’s family moved around a lot when she was a child as her father worked in the oil fields, but they landed in Gillette in 1968 and stayed. She remembers Gillette when there was roughly 5,500 people living here, the water was brown and the majority of the roads were dirt. After graduating high school, she attended the Medical Lab Tech program at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. Lynn came to work for CCH in July 1981 as a Medical Lab Tech, and she’s stayed in the Lab the entire time she’s been with the organization.

“For me, the Lab is the best place to work. The work changes so fast and we’re always striving to be better and get our patients results faster. Honestly, there’s never a dull moment working in the Lab because every day you’re tasked with something different,” Lynn says. For those who don’t know, the CCMH Lab currently performs more than 240 different tests and collects more than 450 others to be sent to outside reference labs. To give you an idea, the CCMH Lab conducted more than 1,022,000 tests in 2015.

Lynn Todd

Lynn started at the Lab in urinalysis, then moved into the Lab Information System Supervisor role, took on the Blood Bank Supervisor and then became an Assistant Supervisor to the Lab Manager. In 1998, she stepped into the Lab Manager/Director position and hasn’t looked back.

“I have never met anyone more excited and passionate about the automation of various lab tests and what it means for patient care,” says Deb Tonn, CCH Vice President of Patient Care Services. “Lynn gives the best Laboratory tours for anyone who wants to learn about the department. And, you can tell she truly cares about her staff and the services that they provide our community.”

Within the Laboratory, and even throughout the organization, Lynn is known to be passionate about her department and about providing the best possible care for her patients. Lynn has also kept a pulse on the nationwide shortage of lab technicians, and even health care workers, so she’s always looking for ways to get more people interested in the fields. She was instrumental in helping CCH Professional Development create the Phlebotomy Classes offered yearly, and soon to be offered more frequently. She has also partnered with area community colleges to allow students to do their clinical rotations at the CCMH Lab.

“Lynn really goes to bat for her employees—she always wants us to be paid for our abilities and works very hard to make sure that the Lab is adequately staffed,” says Julia Reagan, CCMH Lab Phlebotomy Supervisor, who has known Lynn for 15 years.

“Lynn has been instrumental in enabling the lab to have the most current equipment and technology to provide the best care for our patient,” adds Donna Hallcroft, Lab Supervisor, who has worked with Lynn for 29 years. “She’s always looking for ideas to improve processes, and welcomes new ideas from staff.”

In 2004, the Lab began performing the health fair testing instead of sending the samples out of town/state to be processed. Then, in 2006 the Lab began providing the community with healthCHECK testing every Tuesday. That led the way for our on-demand health screening testing now known as healthCHECK+ that is offered by Wellness Services Monday-Friday from 6-11 am; and the testing is still performed by our Laboratory.

Jump 10 years down the road, Lynn saw that demands for chemistry testing increased from 140,000 tests per year in 2000 to more than 770,000 tests in 2009. Lynn led the charge for a Lab remodel to include a Roche automation line, which was also the first full chemistry automation line in Wyoming. Before automation, a Medical Lab Scientist entered blood specimen information into the computer, waited for the blood to clot, walked the sample to a centrifuge machine for preparation, uncapped the tube and poured samples for testing, walked the sample to the analyzer machine, and finally, verified the results and released the test information to the physician requesting the test. Automation performs all those tasks, so the specimen enters the automation line and doesn't have to be touched again until analysis is complete—removing multiple manual tasks in the testing process, decreasing the chances of human error and exposure to pathogens, while improving quality and efficiency.

Lynn was also instrumental in implementing the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, which is a very accurate way to test for some diseases and get results quick—and that helps a doctor treat a patient fast and accurately to make them feel better, faster. For example, tests for meningitis used to be sent to Mayo and it would take a week to get results. Now, the Lab can test and get the results in a little more than an hour.

Lynn has also shown that she can be innovative in making sure patients have a great experience in the Lab. A negative experience having her blood drawn as a child has haunted Lynn for years, and every time a child came in for blood work she would relive that experience. To help make the experience better for children who were scared of needles, to have blood work drawn or get a vaccination, the department tried everything from stickers to suckers and stuffed animals to festive artwork. But, it wasn’t until Lynn met a local black light artist that she figured out how to transform the patient experience with her “Wow” Rooms. 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 under the black light.

"It's amazing how much it helps the kids," Lynn said. "With just a flip of a switch, the tears are instantly gone as they gaze around and look at the walls. It's so much more than I had ever thought it could be."

CCH has even added more of these wow rooms in the surgery department. 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. And, if Lynn notices an employee who may be down in the dumps, she encourages them to sit in one of the rooms to cheer up—and it usually works.

“I’m honored to be recognized as a Legend at CCH,” Lynn says. “To me, I’m just doing my job, to the best of my ability. I’m humbled that my colleagues have seen something legendary in my actions.”

In her spare time, Lynn and her husband, Jerry run Excalibur Entertainment, which provides a DJ and emcee (and even some Karaoke) for any special event. The duo has raised three boys together – her son Kyle, who recently graduated with a degree in Chemistry from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD; Jerry’s son Derrick, who is attending Gillette College; and her sister’s son William, who is also attending Gillette College. They enjoy spending time together with their three pug-zus (pug and shih tzu mixes).

Thank you, Lynn for WOWing us all with your innovative ideas and approaches to patient care. You have left a permanent impression in this organization and in our community. Congratulations.

  • Category: Employee Recognition, Laboratory, Wellness, Legend Award