Mike Pitts - Comp User Support Analyst, Pathology

April 2013 Golden Rose Recipient

Mike Pitts - Comp User Support Analyst, Pathology

Mike deserves a Golden Rose — about this there is no question. When he joined the Pathology Department’s Epic Beaker team ahead of the big laboratory information system (LIS) changeover that took place in Fall 2012, he took on the formidable task of making us, the Phlebotomy lab, completely set up for success.

That was some serious business. We’re a crew of 35 phlebotomists drawing blood 24/7 on 26 inpatient units, plus drawing another 1500 patients each week in two outpatient clinics. We have a PAS helping patients at the front desk and a Med Tech performing testing on 6 different instruments. Not only did Mike have to tackle all those areas of service, but he also understood that in many ways, Phlebotomy is the "face" of the lab. We’re the lab people that the rest of the hospital sees, the primary human interface a patient has with OHSU’s laboratories. If the LIS changeover didn’t succeed, patients would know as soon as the phlebotomist walked into the room.

Replacing an LIS in an active hospital is like replacing the engine in a car while the car is traveling 60 mph down the highway. It’s the LIS that lets patient care happen. Without the LIS, the lab’s instruments could still spin down and analyze samples, but they couldn’t connect a sample to the patient it belongs to or report test results to doctors and nurses. The LIS is the immediate and complete flow of laboratory testing information—and during the big change to the Beaker LIS system, patient care had to continue uninterrupted.

In preparation for this, Mike spent "a million hours a week" (as one phlebotomist put it) for months on end in the Phlebotomy labs. He worked 16-hour days so that he could talk to both our Morning staff, who arrive at 4:30am, and our Night staff, who start at 8pm. He led training classes and info sessions, and scheduled one-on-one training with individual phlebotomists. He helped us change the tools we use, with the introduction of handheld Rover scanners and label printers. He helped us change our workflows to accommodate new ways of using Beaker to communicate with doctors and nurses. And he helped us change our understanding of the way we did our jobs, as orders for lab tests were suddenly available to us not just every two hours when we printed a paper list, but as soon as they were ordered, on the handheld scanners we now carried.

More than once during the lead-up to the Beaker go-live, Mike came into our manager’s office and said, "There was a problem that you didn’t know about, but I already fixed it—so "don’t worry about it", but this is what the solution was." Then he’d describe something like a glitch with our handheld printers that he’d already spent five hours on the phone with the manufacturer resolving. The problem was gone before we even knew about it. If any of you on the Golden Rose nomination committee have ever done IT work, then you will appreciate the weight of this: Mike gave out his personal cell phone number to our entire workgroup and told us to post it on the wall in multiple locations, so that any phlebotomist could get ahold of him immediately, at any time.

During all of the Beaker craziness, Mike held it all together, and he held us together. This is what some phlebotomists had to say about him:

  • "The man is clearly dedicated to making all this work to its utmost potential."
  •  "He should get two Golden Roses, because one isn't enough for all he did."

And our manager, Joanne Wright, says this: "Whatever I had asked of Mike, he made it his mission to find a solution or an answer . . . If I had to do it all over again I cannot think of a more positive, energized, knowledgeable, and capable person to have on our side."

And he’s still taking care of us. Since Beaker’s go-live back in October, Mike has continued to be our go-to person for everything related to the new system and our new equipment, and he checks in regularly to make sure everything is working properly. As we head toward a big Beaker upgrade in May, we anticipate seeing him around again, posting signs for his training classes and watching over our shoulders as we practice, and answering all of our ten thousand questions. We’ve thanked Mike with cards, with baked goods, and with candy. But this man deserves a trophy. We hope you’ll agree.

Submitted by Cara Olexa, on behalf of the entire Phlebotomy Team