I'm the first person they see when they walk in the door.
Brenda McCallon, CCHT + Admin. Assistant
"I love the relationships I get to build, and the trust that we build within each other."
Brenda McCallon has been a certified clinical hemodialysis technician for many years, and recently added administrative duties to her role at an Olympia dialysis clinic. It's a job she loves, despite the early hours.
"I do more at the front desk now, but I was a technician for seven years," she said. "So as an opener, we come in when it's dark and sometimes a little scary. We start the water room, we get our tanks filled up and ready to do our mix for the patients, we set up all the machines, get everything ready. We have about an hour to get stuff geared up for patients to start coming in the door."
Juggling life-saving schedules
At the Olympia clinic, technicians arrive at 3:30 a.m. Nurses come in around 4:30 a.m. The first patients of the day arrive by 5 a.m.
"They're ready to barge in the door," Brenda jokes. "So we start letting them in and then we have 'ons' 20 minutes apart for the next hour, until they're all on. We'll get a little break in between, depending on their dialysis times, cause some people only run for three, three and a half, four hours, so we have to stagger it. Then we go and it's time for turnaround."
As a technician and as an administrative assistant, Brenda plays a critical role in keeping everyone on time. But even though it can feel overwhelming to keep tabs on everyone in the facility, she believes the human connection should always be top priority.
"We have seven patients that come in within that first two and a half hours and I try to put all of them on myself," she said. "We do have nurses who are able to do it, but they have a lot of other stuff they have to do. I mean, I know that they can do that, but it's also a strain on them because they have seven patients they have to keep comfortable."
More than just a provider, more than just a patient
It's no easy task to balance the many schedules that patients need for treatment throughout the week. Brenda is busy from the moment she walks in the door, but it also means she gets to help patients feel better. And sometimes the support is mutual.
"I worked in a Tacoma clinic for six years of my career, that's where I started," she said. "There have been a lot of those patients that would through times in my life. You know, I was in my mid-twenties and going through a lot of different things. Just like any relationship, you start talking about more and more and learning more and more about them and their life."