Thirty-one years ago, Carla Herl started her new job as a phlebotomist in Central Kansas Medical Center’s lab. Today, she is director of that lab — one of only 45 out of 2,200 in Kansas that is accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP).
“One of my main responsibilities is to ensure we meet all the requirements for CAP accreditation,” said Herl, an Ellinwood native. “All our employees, especially our three lead technologists, play instrumental roles in helping me reach this goal.
“CAP is the gold standard because of its stringent requirements,” Herl added. “The accreditation process is rigorous and our whole team works diligently to make sure we maintain the highest level of quality and compliance.”
Herl’s duties also include monitoring quality control and overseeing the lab’s expanding outreach program in Great Bend and surrounding communities. The goal is to broaden CKMC’s reach to build relationships with more people and businesses.
“We are a full-service lab and can therefore provide a wide variety of services,” Herl noted. “For example, our growing microbiology department is a vital part of our outreach to patients, families and the community as a whole.”
The health-care benefits of microbiology include helping doctors make diagnoses, isolating the organism causing an illness and providing information that will help determine which medications are appropriate.
“We can offer physicians our results within 24 hours,” Herl said. “Our staff is here 24/7.”
Since the lab is not limited to health care, it also can serve businesses. One example is microbiology work for Redbarn, the new premium pet products company. The lab helps the business with quality control of its products.
The lab employs 25 people, including technologists, technicians and phlebotomists. The average amount of experience in the lab is 20 years.
“We are so fortunate that we retain our techs,” Herl said. “This is the perfect illustration of our teamwork.”
The outreach program also includes: serving smaller hospitals within a 60-mile radius; in-house health checks for any company’s employees; the eScreen drug-testing service that provides results in 15 minutes; and community health screenings from 7 to 8 a.m. on the first and third Fridays of the month at Community Bank in Great Bend.
Services include blood work, blood pressure and blood glucose checks, lipid profiles and PSA testing.
“We want to continue growing,” Herl said. “Anyone who has a question about our services is encouraged to give us a call.”
In addition, Herl noted, lab personnel will make house calls to patients who are not ambulatory.
Herl’s career began in 1979 in the CKMC lab where she worked as a phlebotomist until the mid-1980s. She resigned when she started a family and returned to the lab in the early 1990s. Then she left for 12 years and came back 2 1/2 years ago.
In 1994 Herl completed the medical lab technician program at Barton Community College and recently earned a bachelor of science in medical technology from Weber University.
Sharon Lind, CKMC president and chief executive officer, said the hospital is fortunate that Herl returned to her roots.
“Carla exemplifies our team approach to serving patients, families and the community,” Lind said. “We are so gratified to have her in this leadership position as our lab grows and becomes a partner with more people and businesses in central Kansas. Carla and her colleagues are the best of the best.”
For more information, call 620-786-6612.