Belfast, Maine: Surgical technologist welcomes her travel assignment
The atmosphere is laid back, and there's a great New England feel here," says Sheila, who has been a traveling surgical technologist with Cincinnati, Ohio-based Health-Force since 2004. "Belfast is a quaint little seacoast town. Right now, I'm pretty much enamored—if not enchanted—with it."
Located at the head of the Penobscot Bay in Waldo County, Belfast was settled in 1765; Irish émigré James Miller named it for a city in his home country. The area, home to generations of lobstermen, became a thriving shipping town, and remains one today. It is populated by 6,381 residents and echoes of its past. A railroad terminal on the bay now acts as a stage for the Belfast Maskers theater troupe, and Waldo County General Hospital (WCGH), where Sheila has been on assignment since February 17, has cared for patients for more than 100 years.
Warm work environment
Sheila, who was voted one of Healthcare Traveler's Travelers of the Year in 2006, practices 5 days a week, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., in a three-room OR. WCGH, a small facility that boasts 25 beds, also has a two-room endoscopy suite that's used for patients undergoing surgery and orthopedic or gynecologic procedures.
"I see about nine patients a day," says Sheila. "Coming from a 23-room trauma center, the pace is definitely less hurried. It's great, being able to switch things up and determine what's important. I feel fortunate that, as a mobile provider, I'm able to experience a variety of settings."
Whenever she can, Sheila volunteers for on-call duty, working from 3:30 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. the next day. The norm for employees at her assignment facility is one day a week and one weekend per month. "When I'm on call, I might see someone who is having an appendix or gallbladder removed, or an older woman who slid and injured her hip," she relates. "Thankfully, most of the people I care for do not present with a dire illness or condition."
Sheila—the only mobile provider in the OR, with the exception of a locum tenens physician—has quickly become part of the team, which includes 13 nurses, two orthopedic surgeons, two emergency medical technicians, two gynecologists, three general surgeons, two urologists, and an eye surgeon. "The permanent staff members are remarkable. They are tremendously supportive and very traveler-friendly."
From going out to breakfast with the nurses to shopping with other staff members, Sheila has been welcomed by the hospital's regular staff on a personal level. She says that everyone "has each other's back" and is so caring.