2006 Point-of-Care Coordinator of the Year

This award is funded by Lifescan, Inc. and includes a cash award and funds to support attendance at the the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine (formerly AACC) Annual Meeting. The recipient, Edwina Szelag, is from Holmes Regional Medical—Health First, Inc. in Melbourne, Florida.

Congratulations on behalf of the Awards Committee.

Edwina F. Szelag- 2006 POCT Coordinator of the Year

Edwina Szelag is the POCT Coordinator for Health First, a three hospital integrated health care delivery system in Brevard County Florida.  Holmes Regional Medical Center, Palm Bay Community Hospital and Cape Canaveral Hospital form the core of the organization.  Other services and specialties are women’s and children’s, outpatient centers for surgery, endoscopies, wound care, pain management, diabetes, home care, hospice, cancer, heart, stroke and rehabilitative services.  In addition the system is also home to the county’s only trauma center and “Vital Watch or eICU.   The organization has earned many awards for its devotion to quality healthcare.  As Point of Care Coordinator for the system, Edwina is responsible and accountable for leading and implementing initiatives and programs that focus on performance improvement, quality assurance, communication, education and accreditation compliance relating to point of care testing.  Under her guidance, the organization continues to be accredited for all bedside testing under CAP and JCAHO.   The program, as well as the organization continues to grow.  In 1996 POCT consisted of 5 different POCT tests, today it oversees 11 different test methods, over 1700 operators and volumes have grown exponentially.   The system will be opening a new 8-story Heart, Trauma and Emergency Services Center in the fall. A fourth hospital is soon to break ground. 

Edwina earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from Quinnipiac College in Connecticut.  As a student intern in Yale’s School of Medicine Medical Technology Program, Edwina worked in the Clinical Chemistry department at Yale New Haven Hospital.  Upon relocation to Florida she worked as a Technologist in Blood Bank at Plantation General Hospital in Plantation Florida, then became a Senior Technologist in Hematology and Coagulation at Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Prior to moving to Melbourne, she earned her Masters in Health Management from St Thomas University in Miami, Florida.   Edwina joined the staff of Holmes Regional Medical Center in 1990.  She held positions as a Senior Technologist in Hematology and as Senior Technologist over the Laboratory’s Stat Lab.  In 1995 a position in Laboratory Administration for Quality Assurance Assistant was posted.  Edwina accepted this position and began to work with a bedside-testing program still in its infancy. Her impact on improving the quality and safety of the POCT program has been far-reaching across the system and best illustrated by her active participation in and outstanding contributions to several continuum of care and performance improvement teams at all three hospitals as well as the corporate level. 

In addition to forming and supervising the POCT program at Health First, Edwina has also been instrumental in creating the Florida East Coast Point of Care Testing Coordinators Conference which has been held each fall in Cocoa Beach Florida since 2000. This full day event brings POCC’s Lab Managers/Directors; Medical Technologists, Respiratory Care providers and Nurses involved with POCT together from throughout the State.  In 2003, along with the support of other POCC’s in the Central Florida area this conference merged into the “Central Florida POC Network”.  Edwina is Co-Chair of this group who were also responsible for hosting the recent “AfterGlow” event enjoyed by hundreds of POCC’s in attendance at the 2005 the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine (ADLM) conference held last year in Orlando, Florida.   She continues to be a speaker at local, state and national educational seminars on several Point of Care topics including implementation of critical care programs for POCT, topics on compliance and has presented to an international group of biomedical engineers at Nova Biomedical Headquarters in Waltham, Mass. 

Edwina enjoys the unique niche POCT has to offer a blend of expertise and pride of Medical Technology coupled with a passion for teaching. Her program has representatives from all areas involved in testing.  Each are trained to the knowledge and standards expected for POCT.  The program has a logo as well as special recognition pin presented to each representative.  Regular meetings as well as newsletters and electronic based testing modules help to keep communication and competency on the forefront. She remains an active instructor at new associate orientation, skill fairs and monthly adult diabetes support group. 

 Edwina will be quick to tell you that the success of the POCT program is not measured by her efforts alone, but by the team work, dedication and cooperation of the Laboratory and Patient Care staff involved in bedside testing year round. She continues to dedicate herself to defining best practices for POCT and as such has become a strong leader in the POCT community.