Rita JohnsonRita Johnson, MHA BS MT(ASCP)
Pathology Support Services Manager (Outreach, Clinical Trials, Courier, Phlebotomy)

What role have you played in COVID-19 preparations? What are some of the successes and challenges you have faced?

We played a vital role in quickly putting together a mobile phlebotomy team to provide in-home service to our patients. This service helped reduce delays in treatment and helped us to continue to provide high quality care in a safe environment for our patients. Also, we put together COVID-19 kits and sent to nursing homes to quickly facilitate testing. The challenges we’ve faced is not having enough staff to meet the new demands. However, the help of redeployed team members allowed us to overcome the barriers and achieve success.

What is a day on the job like since the pandemic began?

My day is very fluid. It's filled with Zoom meetings with various departments to discuss efficient ways to provide mobile phlebotomy services to our patients. I coordinate the distribution and delivery of masks to offsite locations via pathology couriers. I work collaboratively with our internal and external partners to coordinate the delivery of test kits for COVID-19 testing. We have daily briefings to continuously update team members on the rapid changes due to COVID-19 to maintain safe practices.

What do you think will be the lasting impact of COVID-19 on your work, the health system, and healthcare as a whole?

The lasting impact of COVID-19 on my work is that my team and I provided a service to our patients during our most challenging times. COVID-19 has changed the way that VCU Health conducts business, offering more virtual visits which increases efficiency and productivity. The health system has recognized that all team members are essential. COVID-19 has changed the way healthcare is delivered and validates that social distancing helps curtail the spread of diseases.

Have you seen any moments of hope or kindness in the hospital or community that you would like to share?

I've seen an outpouring of love and support throughout our community and around the health system for healthcare professionals. During this pandemic, I received a call from a teacher friend who wanted to do something special for the phlebotomy team. She purchased pizzas and had them delivered to 12 of our 17 phlebotomy locations and E-gift cards were purchased for the team members at the remaining 5 locations. This was so thoughtful and caring.

What are you doing to take care of your well-being during the pandemic?

I’ve played more games on my phone, spent more time watching movies with the kids, and my husband and I have date nights. We've even taken on some home projects.

What do you most look forward to doing when the pandemic ends, personally and professionally?

When the pandemic ends, I personally look forward to traveling with my husband and to attend my daughter’s collegiate softball games at Norfolk State University. Professionally, I look forward to continuing to mentor and coach my team by sharing knowledge that we’ve gained during this pandemic. Hopefully, encouraging some to go back to school and enter the field of laboratory medicine.