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Life as a Phlebotomist at a Covid-19 Testing Drive-Thru

A New York phlebotomist tells what it's like on the front lines

by Dennis Ernst • April 06, 2020


surgical tech in scrubs with sign

A phlebotomist in New Rochelle, New York, recently shared what a 12-hour shift is like at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site.

Vivian Velasquez-Caldera, a phlebotomist at Northwell Health, penned the first-person article recently posted at CNBC's Make It online newsletter. She explains how she came to volunteer for the challenging outreach operation located in a park at the epicenter of New York's outbreak. With six lanes available for cars to line up Velasquez-Caldera keeps a safe distance as state troopers call each forward one at a time using megaphones. Wearing a full hazmat suit, she signals the driver to roll down their window and collects a series of nasal and throat swabs. The collection procedure is repeated for all passengers, who remain in their seats. She says she had to take specialized training to collect the samples since only nurses and doctors were allowed to do so prior to the pandemic. 

Velasquez-Caldera and her team members collect over 1,000 samples every day. She wears gloves and a jumpsuit covering her entire body and includes a powered respirator that purifies the air she breaths, the same equipment used for Ebola testing. 

Even though the phlebotomist is married with five children, her dedication to the public welfare spoke louder than her own self-preservation. Though she admits the last thing she wanted was to become infected and spread it to her family, she realized the pandemic required her to rise to the occasion.

Read the full article.


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