Reprinted courtesy of Ingram's Magazine
If you have to wake up in a hospital bed, and if you have to start your day on the business end of a needle, you want the person on the other end to be just like Faye Peterson. She’s a phlebotomist at Lee’s Summit Medical Center, where she’s worked since 1968. In the decades since she started at what was then Lee’s Summit Hospital, she has become, hospital officials say, a favorite among patients—well-known not just for her ready smile and refined sense of humor, but for her deft touch with the needle.
In addition to making the rounds for morning blood draws, she’s called on to do outpatient blood draws—and often is asked for by name when repeat patients come in.
“Phlebotomy is not an easy job,” Peterson says. “Some people think ‘Oh! They are just drawing blood,’ but no, there’s more to it than that.”
There are also aspects of training and teaching, plus the challenges of setting up phlebotomy sites at different locations and office buildings. And—point of personal pride here—Peterson says some of the most rewarding duties she has involve “tackling the most difficult patients.” From a staff perspective, hospital officials credit Peterson with being unfailingly positive and committed, with exhibiting the medical center’s core values in her daily work and with always having a kind word or message of encouragement for her colleagues. Compassion, they say, can be exhibited with an act as simple as remembering the name of a patient, and Peterson has a reputation not only for that, but for details about their lives.
After more than 40 years in that role, Peterson has had opportunities to interact with thousands of patients. One, whose story continues to resonate with her today, was just 8 months old when she first saw him at the old hospital site. His was a life-and-death case that involved a liver transplant at that early age. But the patient is now 13 years old, Peterson says, and “has continued to do remarkably well—and that’s reward enough for me.”