IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

Blood cultures run smoothly thanks to super volunteer

We are IU Health

March 19, 2019

A dedicated volunteer at IU Health Ball Hospital has found her niche working to assemble blood culture kits.

It’s Friday afternoon and Marie Clements is preparing to leave her volunteer shift at IU Health Ball Hospital. But before she reaches the door she asks Kate Anderson, Clinical Manager of the Emergency Department: “Do you think you have enough kits to get through the weekend? If you don’t I’ll come in on Sunday.”

That’s the kind of volunteer Clements is.

“Marie is someone who builds people up. She’s part of our ED family. Without Marie we wouldn’t have time to make these kits and make this successful, and it literally costs us nothing since she volunteers faithfully every week,” said Anderson.

The kits that she refers to are bags filled with two blood culture bottles, a special lab tube that diverts bacteria under the skin, and alcohol swabs. Marie also marks the bottles showing the amount of specimens needed per a blood draw. The kits are then ready to grab and go when needed by any member of the emergency staff.

The idea of pre-assembled kits is the result of a team of registered nurses and unit managers who volunteered to research efficiency in an area that draws more than 600 blood cultures a month. Last year there were 8,216 cultures recorded in the emergency department. The team collaborated with the lab manager and rolled out a process that reduces risk factors to cultures and improves the workflow in the emergent care environment.

And Clements is happy to be part of that environment. On any given week she volunteers at the hospital about 20 hours. She has been recognized as a 3,000-hour volunteer and is working toward her 4,000-hour volunteer pin.

“When I first walked through the doors I asked, ‘how can I get my red jacket?’” said Clements. She has also volunteered in HR and the gift shop – where she was inspired to write a story about two stuffed monkeys named “Ty” and “Joy.” Part of her connection to the hospital is sharing the fictional story – a tale that started when a family member spent time in the hospital. Writing was Clements’ way of coping with the stress and looking toward healing.

Born in Texas, Clements moved with her family to Muncie when she was four. At the age of 15 she met her husband Jeffrey at the former “Orr’s Drive-in” in Muncie. They have been married for 57 years and have one son and one daughter.

-- By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

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