Over the past few weeks, we have seen many posts praising nurses and doctors for being at the frontline of COVID-19. Yet there are a group of silent heroes, that are being overlooked.
These silent heroes are the Biomedical Scientists. They are the ones working tirelessly from “behind the scenes” to make all this possible.
The Nursing Journal has interviewed two excellent Biomedical Scientists:
Claudia Bartolo, who started her career in 1999 and Janine Saccasan who began her career in 2019.
What is a Biomedical Scientist?
The role of a biomedical scientist goes hand in hand with the doctor’s plan and the nurse’s care.
As biomedical scientists, Ms Bartolo and Ms Saccasan, along with many other scientists within the department carry out specific diagnostic tests, on a variety of samples such as blood, stools, urine, tissues and swabs. Their work ranges from regular tests that determine the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, to complex genetic testing that can diagnose any hereditary diseases. All of this highlights that through their work, they make early detection and diagnosis of conditions possible.
Biomedical Scientists can work within many sectors, including:
Haematology and Coagulation
Genetics and Toxicology.
How are Biomedical Scientists helping combat COVID-19?
Amidst the COVID-19 hassle, many brave scientists are helping to overcome the pandemic.
Ms Saccasan is one of the scientists working in the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory for Infectious Diseases in Mater Dei Hospital.
Here, along with her colleagues, she is working around the clock to carry out testing for COVID-19 three times per day. The lengthy process requires each sample to be handled manually, so all the scientists must wear Personal Protective Equipment.
What happens after getting a positive COVID-19 result?
If the result comes out as positive (meaning the person has COVID-19), a series of other tests will be performed and analysed in other Pathology Labs.
As we already know, COVID-19 can cause serious complications, so it is crucial to have patients monitored regularly. In most cases, such monitoring means blood tests and further swabs, all of which have to be examined by biomedical scientists in other departments.
As Ms Bartolo and Ms Saccasan excellently highlighted, the healthcare sector is a multidisciplinary team consisting of several professions, whereby one profession is co-dependent on another.
“Our profession is not well known since our work happens behind the scenes, yet we are fundamental to the healthcare system as a lot of medical decisions are taken based on the test results we issue. Precision, responsibility and skill are thus crucial as we cannot afford to make any mistakes, as a mistake may cost the life of a patient.”
– Ms Janine Saccasan
“It would be of great encouragement to the member of my profession if people were to realise that whenever a blood, urine or fluid sample is taken, whenever a lady submits her yearly Cervical Smear, whenever a biopsy is taken, and whenever a blood transfusion is needed, dedicated and committed Biomedical Scientists are using their professional expertise to provide an essential service to everyone, irrespective of nationality, religion, gender, or creed.”
– Ms Claudia Bartolo
Get to Know Our Silent Heroes
Ms Claudia Bartolo
I graduated in Medical Laboratory Science in 1999. For the first few years, I worked in what was then known as the Emergency Laboratory in St Luke’s Hospital. This was a satellite lab, placed right next to the ITU and within a few steps from the A&E Department, where we used to carry out all the urgent blood tests on a 24 hour basis.
These days, the lab has been integrated within the rest of the labs within Pathology, with even more tests than we carried out at the time being analysed round the clock. When we migrated to Mater Dei Hospital, I spent a few years working in the Routine Chemistry and Endocrinology Labs until in 2014, when I received training in Biomedical Andrology/Male Fertility in Leuven, Belgium. Since then, together with another two Scientist, I have charged with and manned the Diagnostic Andrology Laboratory within Mater Dei Hospital.
Ms Janine Saccasan
I have been working in the Molecular Diagnostics laboratory for Infectious Diseases within the Pathology Department at Mater Dei Hospital since April 2019. The area I work in utilises extremely sensitive and specific molecular techniques such as real-time Polymerase Chain Reactions (PCR) to look for and diagnose a number of infectious diseases, among them, the novel COVID-19 virus.
For more information check out: https://www.biomedicalsciencemalta.org/