Writings of an Everyday Technician

'A Day in the Life of Dedicated, Patient- Focused Technicians', Communique Article, October 2018

CS Week

'A Day in the Life of Dedicated, Patient-Focused Technicians'

by Sarah B. Cruz, CSPDT,

Central Sterile Processing Department, Middlesex Hospital

The surgical day starts and ends with Central Sterile Services (CSS). While the Operating Room’s technicians, nurses and doctors are prepping themselves for the day’s case load, Central Sterile is already buzzing. Surgical case carts are sitting outside their designated rooms, carefully cultivated by a Central Sterile technician’s (CST’s) diligent hand. Those hands were used to disinfect, clean and sterilize the instrumentation that make up the case carts. The phones begin to ring, autoclaves buzz, and washers of all varieties beep endlessly. With all this going on, the team remembers there is a patient at the other end of every one of their movements. They know a mother, father, sister or someone’s special someone is counting on CSS professionals’ continuing knowledge, perseverance and determination to help get them home safely.

Without warning, a pressing phone call is intercepted. There might be a hole in the wrap, an instrument may have fallen off the sterile field, or a unique set might be needed for the next case. The lead technician steps up to let everyone know the priority at hand. Everyone knows their job and is ready to meet the demand for patient safety. Through communication, the entire department gets through the urgent situation successfully. Certain times go more smoothly than others, but the safety and health of the patient remain the priority at all times.

The orchestra of sounds that make up the department will never be heard by this patient. They’ll never know the endeavors and grit it took to supply the demand for their health: countless overtime hours filled with a selfless pursuit of organization and perfection; weekends spent on rotation and late- night emergencies; hours spent in lecture halls to expand one’s knowledge on an ever-evolving field of study; departmental inservices on the newest equipment that will help a patient that much more; Fridays filled with loaned equipment drop-offs that must be understood and processed. No, the patient will never know these trials and tribulations endured for a greater pursuit. They won’t know because they will be busy recovering, going home and moving on with their lives and their futures. They won’t have to know because the CSS team knows that everything that went into the surgery went the way it was supposed to. Within each sterile item lies the CST’s integrity and devotion. All the training and sweat has led up to that moment.

As the cases wrap up, with the occasional add-on trickling in, the phones quiet down. Eventually, the washers can take a break. The CST pushes forward, often with only the support and acknowledgement of their colleagues to help motivate them. Even after the last biological is logged, the CST knows the day will repeat itself tomorrow. There will be a new group of patients – more “special someones” – ushered in carefully. As those patients hug their loved ones and venture toward their healthier selves, they will never have to wonder if CSS came to work dedicated – but they can be so grateful they did.

*www.iahcsmm.org Communiqué Reprinted with permission from the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management

SARAH B. CRUZ, CSPDT, Central Sterile Processing Department, Middlesex Hospital, Middletown, Conn.