Biomeds have been introduced to the HTM field in a variety of ways, including through family members. That was the case with Joe Cook, BMET, who works in the Biomedical Services Department at McLeod Health in Florence, S.C.
“I first heard of the profession from an uncle,” Cook recalls. “He worked as a biomed tech for 27 plus years and spoke highly of his experiences. He mentioned biomeds needed troubleshooting skills and that there was a big demand in the field. I knew I liked to troubleshoot, so when looking at education options, I felt it would be a good fit.”
Cook attended Caldwell Community College in Hudson, N.C. He received an associate degree in applied science and received a certificate in networking technology-basics. He plans to take the CBET exam soon.
He started his biomed career with his current employer and has continued his education by attending several schools and taking additional training. On the job, he specializes in anesthesia, surgical microscopes, Dornoch and ultrasound, with plans to grow more on the imaging side. He covers 25 OR suites and anesthesia, along with the cardiovascular ORs (CVOR).
“One of my most special challenges was taking over the OR. The OR is a difficult place to gain the nurses’ and doctors’ trust and respect,” Cook says. “If they called, they wanted you there, right then and there. And if you didn’t show up, they didn’t like you; they had no use for you. That was my biggest challenge; just to have them like me and respect me and have their trust in me.”
“Whenever they called me, I was there. I was in the operating room; I didn’t give them an excuse. I dropped whatever I was doing and I was there,” he adds. “Now, everyone loves me in the OR and respects me.”
For a biomed who may be contemplating working in the OR or who is slated for work in the OR, Cook has some advice. His primary tip is that the level of urgency that the OR staff feels should be shared by the biomed.
“Listen to what the doctor says. If they call; just go. They don’t like waiting around,” he says.
Being there when needed is how you build confidence in the OR staff, according to Cook.
Cook says it’s important for a biomed to remain calm when other staff may be panicking. When a surgical process is impeded because the image on a 26-inch monitor has suddenly reduced in size, the quick thinking of a biomed in the OR is required.
Sometimes the screen images will reset on one brand of monitor says Cook.
“It will reset to S-Video or SDI and you won’t have your full image,” he explains.
He says that a trip to the nursing station and resetting the DVI channel solves the problem.
Cook still has a knack for troubleshooting and enjoys it when he gets a chance to work on something different.
“I like the challenge of working on new equipment. I don’t get to work on equipment outside of the OR much, and when I do, I love the challenge. I have been to ultrasound training on the IE33 and the IU22 from Philips. These ultrasound units are very time consuming and a challenge at times,” Cook says.
“Also, I have been to GE for training on anesthesia units. I love working on anesthesia units,” he says. “Working on these units is also challenging. These units can have a leak inside and can take five minutes or two hours to find. It is a challenge that I love and to keep customers alive and well.”
Some special projects gave Cook a lot of hands-on experience after going to work at McLeod.
His first project at McLeod was the upgrade of 2,000 Cafefusion IV pumps. The Carefusion team was there for a week.
“We had to find all 2,000 channels. The guys from Carefusion had to run their process and we had to run our process. Then, we had to do a check-in test to make sure every unit passed before sending it back out for use,” Cook says. “This project took about a week and half.”
The department’s director gave the OK for overtime.
“My second project at McLeod was checking in and inventorying all our new Carefusion Alaris EtCO2 modules,” Cook recalls. “The EtCO2 attaches to our PCA pumps and our SPO2 modules. I had to run a check-in test to make sure (the) unit works properly and that it is not an out-of-box failure. Then, I had to inventory (the) unit and schedule a PM on it. I had to do this for 90 units.”
Not everything is work. Cook is an avid fisher and participates in Striper tournaments every chance he gets.
“My favorite part is being out on the water and, of course, winning tournaments,” he says.
He also enjoys spending time with family. His wife, Angela, works for a bank in Florence, S.C., where they live. Cook’s parents and sister live in North Carolina where he grew up.
“I am a very caring person and very outgoing. I am a person who sincerely wants my customers to know I am there to help in any way I can. They come first to me. My customers are the nurses, doctors and ancillary staff in the OR suites,” Cook says. “Their job is stressful, making critical decisions regarding patient care all day, every day. My goal is to keep the equipment in the OR suites working efficiently as to relieve any stress I can to help them in their job.”
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