Tracy Turner doesn’t mind working in the organized madness. In fact, he thrives on it. “When you like chaos you tend to flock to it,” he says.
Turner sees plenty of patients in turmoil in the UAB Hospital emergency room where he works as a CT technologist in Radiology. But his calming influence, knack for tolerance and dedication to his patients are traits his co-workers say make him worthy to be selected July’s Employee of the Month.
|Tracy Turner, July’s Employee of the Month, thrives in the organized madness found in the UAB Hospital emergency room.
“Tracy’s dedication to patient care is one of his many strengths,” says Jerrie Gaut, CT technologist.
“His constant patience with the more unruly of our clientele — in order to produce high-quality diagnostic images that enable physicians to better evaluate and diagnose the patients — is at times amazing.”
Because Turner typically works the overnight shift, he sees some of the more extreme cases that come through the ER. Drunk drivers and patients who have experienced severe trauma often wind up in his care. That has led to several incidents in which patients have tried to attack him. One patient removed his bloody C-spine collar and hit Turner with it in the chest — all because he did not want to have a CT scan.
“I have a high tolerance for negativity,” Turner says. “The combative ones who come in and — for whatever reason — lash out and curse at you, those cases usually come to me. I usually get told, ‘Hey, you’re getting this guy. He’s right up your alley.’
“I’ve been doing this since 1992, so I’ve been in it long enough to know there’s an agitation level that comes into play,” he says. “There are two keys for me: Get the scans done so the doctors can do their job and stay focused.”
Turner learned the consequences of losing focus the hard way when one patient broke two of his ribs.
He was taking an X-ray of an 80-year-old man who was non-responsive. All it took to wake him up was the feeling of cold metal cassette on his back.
“I was in front of him and had my arm around his shoulder and was lowering him down, and I guess the coldness of the X-ray cassette woke him up,” Turner says. “He called me ‘the death bringer’ and mule-kicked me. He put me four feet back into a wall and broke two ribs.
“It is probably the funniest thing that’s ever happened to me at work — I was laughing immediately after it happened — but it’s also a constant reminder that if you’re not focused on the task at hand it can get you hurt.”
Jim Galbraith, M.D., director of medical student education in the Department of Emergency Medicine, has worked with Turner for four years. Galbraith says he relies on Turner to get the most difficult jobs done, including imaging trauma patients and patients who are combative or have body habits that makes CT imaging challenging.
“Tracy is the kind of person who can get things done,” Galbraith says. “He is hard working and great with patient care. I have even seen him wash the feet of a patient in the emergency room.”
Aaron Dupree, M.D., in Emergency Medicine, says Turner has an exceptional aptitude with difficult patients, and he appreciates the quick response Turner gives to doctors’ requests.
“I have been impressed more than once by his quick recognition of life-threatening conditions in the preliminary scans, for which he took the initiative and called to alert me to an urgent scan that needed my attention,” Dupree says. “On several occasions I have asked him to scan a high-risk patient first or sooner, and I have never heard him complain or even make a single excuse.”
Turner is quick to point out that the 25 CT technologists are a team that works together to provide their patients with high-quality care.
“My co-workers are focused on the mission at hand, and that’s taking care of people,” he says. “Sometimes there are lively discussions, but taking care of the patient is forefront in their minds. That’s what we’re here to do.”
If you know someone who should be recognized for the work they do, e-mail letters of recommendation to Jason Turner at email@example.com.