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Essential to health care

Date published: 11/5/2012

Essential to health care

Thank you, Kristina Pirollo-Ketchum, for your letter about the central sterile supply department ["Had surgery? You were helped by these pros," Oct. 9].

We sterile-processing folks don't get much attention. In the social hierarchy of the medical field, we're pretty darn close to the bottom. The sterile-processing department that I work in is in the basement of the hospital, near the morgue.

When I read the letter to the editor, I said, "Hallelujah! Somebody gets us!"

Because we decontaminate used surgical instruments, sterile-processing technicians are often viewed as nothing more than glorified dishwashers. This hurts a little, considering how integral we are to patient care.

Those instruments used to crack a patient's chest in the emergency department? We cleaned and sterilized those. The instruments used in that unexpected Cesarean section? Yes, we cleaned and sterilized those, too. When a trauma patient makes it to the operating room in time, or when a baby lives to take its first breath, a sterile-processing technician has something to do with it.

We may not have direct patient contact, but we are patient care advocates. That "new life" given to patients who were at death's door? Yes, we were part of that.

Sterile processing isn't the most glorious of medical professions, but we're still mighty proud of what we do.

Shannon Maurer