When asked to describe her role at COLA, Technical Support Specialist Anita Coleman most frequently uses one word to describe it: caregiver.
“I take care of ailing and sick labs that need extra care,” she stated. “I want to make sure labs do their jobs well, patients get the best care, and – in the process – COLA does well, too.”
Now in her 10th year at COLA, Coleman spent most of her prior professional career working in the medical field. But she said that her roles as a parent and home caregiver are what truly helped prepare her for the kind of work she does at COLA.
“I work with labs that are having problems,” explains Coleman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from George Washington University.
“I provide them with educational materials. I go over it with them and answer all their questions. And, if I can’t help them, I put them in touch with the person who can,” she stated.
She helps labs working to complete a plan of required improvement (PRI). “Some succeed on their own and some wait. If labs won’t work with me, I refer them to COLA’s accreditation committee for action. But when a lab completes their PRI, I serve as their in-house ombudsman at COLA.”
Coleman has a firsthand understanding of the lab culture in part because of the time she spent working at Hunter Labs, one of the first reference labs in Washington, DC.
She says she takes her job very seriously. “It all comes down to patient care,” she explains.
Coleman started as a Technical Advisor before being promoted to her current position three years ago. Some of the people she dealt with in her former position still reach out to her for advice because they trust her judgment and expertise.
She finds her COLA duties very rewarding and takes them very seriously. “It’s so exciting to see labs turn themselves around”, she observed. “Ultimately, everything we do translates into better patient care.”