Surgical techs increase patient safety at WBAMC

Spc. Angel Pagan, left, and Spc. Monique Lobrino, both surgical technicians in operating room, perioperative nursing services, Department of Surgery, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, demonstrate “scrubbing in” during National Surgical Technologists Week at the hospital Sept. 21.Photo by Marcy Sanchez, WBAMC Public Affairs.

Spc. Angel Pagan, left, and Spc. Monique Lobrino, both surgical technicians in operating room, perioperative nursing services, Department of Surgery, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, demonstrate “scrubbing in” during National Surgical Technologists Week at the hospital Sept. 21.Photo by Marcy Sanchez, WBAMC Public Affairs.

By Marcy Sanchez, WBAMC Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Sept. 28, 2017)

Behind the scenes and in operating rooms, surgical technicians are responsible for more than patients may realize. In recognition of their work, both in and out of view, people throughout the country celebrate the profession during National Surgical Technologists Week, held every third week of September.

At William Beaumont Army Medical Center, surgical technicians play an important role in daily operations. While averaging 60 cases a day, they support surgical and sterilization procedures at WBAMC to increase patient safety and the readiness of 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Soldiers, retirees and eligible veterans in the West Texas and Southern New Mexico area.

In the Army, surgical technicians may provide support in Military Treatment Facilities or austere environments where field and Combat Support Hospitals may be operating.

“I chose to be a (surgical technician) because I knew after my career I would have something good to transition to, something I could get certified in,” said Pvt. Sekayi Searcy, surgical technician, operating room, perioperative nursing services, Department of Surgery, and recent graduate of the Army’s 19-week long operating room specialist training.

Searcy enjoys the variety of roles technicians play in the OR, from supporting surgical cases by assisting surgeons to assisting other surgical technicians by preparing, inspecting and providing sterile surgical instruments for efficient patient care. Other responsibilities include inspecting, cleaning, assembling and sterilizing equipment.

“You can help surgeons (with instruments), hold or  do something for them and help overall as a second pair of hands,” said Searcy, a native of Fort Worth, Texas.

“(Surgical technicians) don’t just assist with one type of surgery all day long,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michica Trillo, noncommissioned officer in charge, operating room, perioperative nursing services, Department of Surgery. “It’s all cases, from orthopedics to complex vascular cases; it varies every day for them. They have to be proficient in every type of surgery.”

According to Trillo, attention to detail is a must for surgical technicians as they are responsible for a large part of a patient’s safety. More specifically, accountability of all instruments and objects is significant in preventing retained surgical needles or other foreign objects in the patient.

“We count every instrument, sponge and needle,” said Trillo, a native of Las Cruces, N.M. “We count them before the case starts, in the middle and in the end. It has to be correct from beginning to the end.”

Length of cases also varies, with some lasting less than an hour to others more than six hours.

“They could be the only (surgical) technician in the hospital in the middle of the night and the worst case can come in and they have to be able to do the job,” Trillo said.

Trillo, who had previously served in the Army as a fueler, re-enlisted with a role in Army Medicine after 9/11. Following two deployments with a Combat Support Hospital in support of operations in Iraq, Trillo believes she is still making a difference not just as a surgical technician, but as a Soldier.

“I want to have an impact on Soldiers’ lives through medicine,” Trillo said.

WBAMC promotes readiness through patient-friendly access to high-quality healthcare. The hospital provides outpatient primary care, specialty care, surgical care, emergency care and inpatient services to nearly 100,000 Department of Defense eligible beneficiaries across Fort Bliss, El Paso and Southern New Mexico.