Dot's Doin's: Decorations take sting out of lab procedures

ÊÊ Whether her ability to decorate is inherited or not, it is because of "Dot's doin's" that hundreds of people who visit Sycamore Shoals Hospital find they can be pleasantly distracted by colorful door hangings, decorative centerpieces and beautiful baubles in the laboratory.
   Dorothy "Dot" Rasnick, a Phlebotomist at the community hospital for nearly 11 years, has been creating a patient-centered care environment within the lab that offers seasonal, holiday and everyday appeal for everyone at the Mountain States Health Alliance's 121-bed acute care facility.
   "I guess I inherited this trait from my mother," sad Rasnick, explaining that her mother, Ethel Jones of Bluff City, was a very creative person who always did special things for the holidays. "She had the young people in church always coming over to the house because she could just get right in there with teenagers. When the teens were asked where they wanted to go for a 'social,' they would say, 'Mrs. Jones' house.'"
   Not only does Rasnick transform the lab into a winter wonderland at November and December, she also helps celebrate Independence Day with ample red, white and blue. For Christmastime, there are two trees; at Easter, a ceramic village appears; and, for Valentine's Day, rosebuds abound. All of her efforts to create a pleasing environment doesn't prevent her from performing her role as a healthcare provider, but rather enhances the care she tenders. "When it's time, there are small toys - no tricks - for the children at Halloween," she said, adding that candy is not given out for health reasons.
   "We have patients who will call to see if Dot is here and don't want anyone else to perform a procedure with them," said Lab Manager Leland Dauksch. "We have some patients who tell us they prefer to have Dot draw their blood. If she's here, we let her go to work."
   Both Rasnick and Dauksch realize that "Dot's doin's" - the decorations and toys - help youngsters to think about something other than a needle stick. Adults benefit from the décor, too, when they can look around during a procedure.
   "Some of these patients have been to the doctor's office this morning and will go without breakfast ... they come here and sign in," the MSHA team member said. "By they time they reach me it may be 10 or 11 a.m., and I feel it's my responsibility to make that patient feel he or she is the most important person right then and to make their stay as pleasant as I can.
   "If it means having a flag on the wall or a bag of flowers, so be it because I love these people."
   Many of the Press-Ganey surveys, a customer satisfaction-measuring tool, are returned to the hospital with complimentary remarks about Dot's care and her efforts to make the Lab environment patient friendly. Some of the comments have stated: Dot was wonderful! Thanks! A lady (Dot) and another fellow ... they are lifesavers; and, Dot Rasnick is wonderful at her job.
   "If we don't have our decorations up in a timely manner, several of our patients will get onto us," said Rasnick, smiling at the idea her passion excites so many others in the community. "I love it, I love it (decorating). If it doesn't put but one smile on somebody's face it has still been worth every bit of the effort of dragging that stuff out and putting it up."
   Indeed, according to her team member, Dauksch, patients who must come to the lab for blood work on a regular basis will ask, "why Dot hasn't gotten the decorations up for the holidays. Sometimes the patient volume is high she just can't get all the garland and lights on the floor fast enough."
   At one point, Dauksch said there were roughly 18 decorations that were either "moving or talking."
   "We have a lot of animated things," Rasnick agreed.
   "I have had a couple of World War II veterans who appreciated the Fourth of July decorations ... they appreciate it when we have stuff up for Memorial Day and holidays," Dauksch said.
   "I bring decorations here by the car load," said Rasnick, with a smile. "You would not believe the stuff I have in boxes." Patients have added to the collection of decorations, too, by contributing items to use such as a ceramic eagle and hand-painted rock depicting a fawn.
   The former licensed hairdresser, who presently resides at her family's home place in the Walnut Grove community, spent 28 years as a resident of Wise, Va., before returning to this region more than 10 years ago. "We always wanted to move back," she said, noting her husband, Harold, had been employed in the strip-mining industry. "He works for Transit Mix now as a loader operator."
   Rasnick, the mother of two children - Dean Rasnick and Angela Mullins - began her healthcare career at the former Wise Appalachian Regional Hospital in housekeeping, and later moved to dietary services. Her daughter is also a phlebotomist, while her son works with a local cable company.
   "I've heard good comments on her work," the proud mother and cancer survivor said. "She better be good, I taught her."
   Further on-the-job training and encouragement led to Rasnick's decision to pursue the role of a phlebotomist. Rasnick took advantage of a tuition reimbursement program at her former place of employment to continue her education. "My mother always said, 'It's not where you started out, it's where you end up.' I guess I am where I want to be."