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Sep 17, 2015

Brooklyn, NY

From September 20 to 26, New York Methodist Hospital (NYM) will celebrate its 53 certified surgical technologists during National Surgical Technologists Week. Surgical technologists are an important part of surgical teams in hospitals across the country; when time is tight and a patient's life is on the line, an outstanding "tech" can make all the difference.

Nahama Narcisse

Nahama Narcisse, a resident of Canarsie, Brooklyn, is one of over 50 certified surgical technologists who work at New York Methodist Hospital. The Hospital will celebrate its surgical technologists during National Surgical Technologists Week.

"Everyone has that image from television shows or movies of a surgeon calling, 'scalpel!' and the instrument automatically appearing in the surgeon's hand. At the other end of that exchange is a surgical technologist," said John Jacobs, R.N., vice president for surgical services at NYM. "But in actuality, the job goes well beyond 'call and response.' In fact, many interactions between surgeon and surgical technologist are entirely unspoken, because a tech not only knows thousands of surgical instruments on sight, but also what an individual surgeon's preferences are, as well as the preparations and requirements for specific procedures. He or she can anticipate what will most likely be needed and when. In an emergency situation, this seamless coordination between surgeon and technologist can be life-saving."

Just as physicians and nurses have to keep pace with the latest advances in medicine, New York Methodist's surgical technologists need to continuously update their knowledge of the equipment used for the procedures where they assist, including table types, cautery tools, microscopes, endoscopes, suction/irrigation devices, and more. In addition to their work during an operation, which is performed under the supervision of the surgeon, surgical technologists arrange operating rooms in advance of procedures and help ensure that they remain sterile environments throughout. All surgical techs have training in a wide range of procedures, but they may also specialize in areas such as cardiac surgery, orthopedics, or neurosurgery.

"I know all the instruments, I always pay attention to the progress of the procedure; I want to be able to anticipate everything the surgeon does before he or she does it," said NYM surgical technologist Lorraine Tantuccio. Ms. Tantuccio regularly assists at neurosurgical procedures at the Hospital, such as aneurysm clippings and craniotomies. "A good tech is always learning—it's a very exciting job, and that's what I like about it."

A group of NYM surgical technologists

Left to right, NYM surgical technologists Omar Elkomy (Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn), Bryant Baez (Marine Park, Brooklyn), Heather Toussaint (Canarsie), Porfirio Velez (Sunset Park, Brooklyn), Lorraine Tantuccio (Coney Island, Brooklyn), Karin Doleyres (Canarsie), and Janee DeFairia (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn), during a break between cases.

"I gravitated toward otolaryngology—ear, nose and throat—procedures over time," said surgical technologist David Satriano, who has worked at NYM for three years. "Many of my family members are in medicine, and my sister talked me into doing the training to become a certified tech. She told me it was a fast-paced field that I would enjoy. I've now been a tech for almost 20 years—it looks like she was right!"

"A great technologist is one who thinks of the patient even when that patient isn't in the room," noted surgical technologist Nahama Narcisse. "We treat our surgical instrument table like there is a force field around it. Those instruments need to stay sterile not just for the surgeons, but for the patient undergoing the operation."

"A surgical tech's head must be 'in the game' at all times," said Mr. Jacobs. "And the best ones know what the surgeons are thinking before they think it themselves. We are proud to celebrate their hard work, not just this week, but every week of the year."

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