Mountaintop Medicine from Estes Park Health: Phlebotomists Practice the Art and Science of Blood Draws at Estes Park Health
It’s an important job with a funny name: phlebotomist. Estes Park Health employs five phlebotomists who draw blood for the thousands of tests the laboratory runs every year. These blood draws are crucial for diagnosing medical conditions and monitoring the effectiveness of medication and treatment.
Without lab results, physicians would often be flying blind.
Laurie Larricq has worked in healthcare for 18 years. She enjoys being part of the process to provide accurate blood work to doctors treating patients in the Estes Valley.
“I love being able to help patients get the results they need in a timely fashion to determine the way they are going to be taken care of by the doctors,” Larricq said.
One of her patients this month was 82-year-old Evelyn Thoelcke of Estes Park who has used EPH for her healthcare for two decades. She has had many blood draws here over the years.
“I’m getting a blood test today to check my A1C which is for sugar, and liver and kidney and a metabolic panel,” Thoelcke explained. “They’ve been very careful and gracious to me. I bruise very easily, so my first words to any of them when I come in the door are ‘I bruise easily’ so they know.”
While phlebotomists want to help patients take the simple test as quickly as possible, they pay great attention to detail, finding out the arm preference and prior blood draw experiences of their patients and carefully labeling the vials before they are sent to the lab. Often, patients will get their results in their My Health Connection app before they get home.
MaryBeth Roberds is a phlebotomist and the Laboratory Support Supervisor. She explained that phlebotomists not only work in the outpatient area but also support the Emergency Department and the hospital floor to help take care of all patients. She said working for a small hospital in this capacity is rewarding.
“I know just about every patient’s name that comes in,” Roberds commented. “And they’re fun. They hug you. They tell you, ‘Oh, I’m so glad to see you.’ It’s an amazing feeling.”
For many patients like Karen Davis, having certified phlebotomists at Estes Park Health keeps them from making a trip down valley to another facility.
“Oh, they’ve always been really good and they’re painless,” Davis said.
She comes in for blood work about every six months. Those test results are sent to her physician in Loveland, expediting her care.
“The physician reads the bloodwork and is able to – on a video call – recommend what she wants, maybe, changes in medication,” she added.
Davis’ phlebotomist this month, Nickolas Flatley, said each phlebotomist has their own style for putting patients at ease.
“I push the needle into the skin like a dart so that way it’s a lot quicker and more painless,” Flatley said.
Besides the blood work, phlebotomists also take swabs for flu and COVID tests, urine samples, sputum samples…plus they send home stool kits if a doctor orders it.
Estes Park Health patients are grateful for the personalized care they receive during a phlebotomy.
“I think we are very fortunate in this area to have the quality of healthcare that we have,” Thoelcke emphasized. “As I speak to people in other parts of the country, I shake my head. It’s like, ‘Oh, I wish they were here so that they could get the care that they need.’”
For fast and efficient blood testing by professionals committed to making the process as painless as possible, think Estes Park Health.
To watch a video about phlebotomy services at Estes Park Health, go to https://youtu.be/-okHivUFIDM.