Campus Recognizes 10 Employees for Exemplary Efforts
Ioana Patringenaru | May 26, 2009
UC San Diego recognized Wednesday this year's 10 Exemplary Staff Employee award winners. Click here to read more about this year's Exemplary Staff Employees. Here are biographies of all the recipients.
Principal Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year
Administrative Nurse III – Supervisor
Health Sciences: Neurosciences
In addition to his positive contributions to research and education at the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center since 1997, Terry Alexander has generously volunteered his time to serve on the Human Subjects Research Protections Program and the Medical Center Interdisciplinary Practices Committee for more than five years. These activities have involved substantial time commitments above and beyond usual working hours. Service on the IRB is among the heaviest voluntary commitments to university service that faculty or staff at UCSD can undertake, requiring at minimum 6 to 8 hours of preparation and an evening meeting of three to four hours monthly. Very few nurses have served on the IRB, but they bring unique insight into the implications of studies for the nursing staff and participants. Alexander’s contributions to the IRB and the Medical Center Interdisciplinary Practices Committee demonstrate his commitment to research and medical ethics.
For four years, Alexander also has managed the Quality Assurance functions of the HNRC’s Neuromedical Core. This involves delegating to multiple Staff Research Associates and students and supervising their work. Quality assurance efforts include local, national and international personnel and projects. Alexander is a regular contributor to many other Core activities, including organizing and conducting in-services and training sessions to establish a standardized knowledge base and maintaining records of lumbar puncture certification for each of the clinical research nurses through the Medical Center Interdisciplinary Practices committee.
Alexander designed and implemented an international training program in neuroAIDS. His ability to communicate the details of complicated protocols and procedures to physicians and technical staff members from a variety of countries is outstanding. He has performed training for trainees who are either visiting the HNRC or at their units in several countries including India, Brazil and Romania.
Alexander also has been active in the local community. He led a weekly prostate cancer support group for several years. He reliably dedicated one evening each week to lead a group of men diagnosed with prostate cancer. In addition to leading this weekly group, he made himself available around the clock for group members and thus was often called upon to provide emotional support to men having difficulty handling a life-threatening illness.
He is also active in local drug recovery support groups. He has mentored several young people through successful recovery from drug addiction. In his commitment to helping these individuals he has not only provided emotional support but has also assisted in efforts to regain a normal life by arranging for employment and lodging. As a result of his actions and success in this community he has been asked to speak at several events, including at Stepping Stone—a local organization providing residential and non-residential recovery programs.
Other Award Recipients
Senior Inspector – Planner – Estimator
Business Affairs: Facilities Management
Last year, as most people were leaving campus to spend the holidays with their families, water poured down several floors in Engineering Building, Unit 1, the result of suspected vandalism. The after-hours flood might have continued unabated, potentially damaging expensive lab equipment, short-circuiting the electrical infrastructure and causing hazardous mold to grow, if Jeff Borden, a senior inspector-planner-estimator in Facilities Management, had not stepped up to take charge.
Borden quickly mobilized a team of employees and contractors to extract the water. As others enjoyed their holidays, he and his team worked late into the night to cut walls open and thoroughly dry out the building. Throughout the week, in coordination with other departments such as the Campus Police and Environment, Health & Safety, they ran fans, air scrubbers and dehumidifiers to ensure that when everyone returned, the integrity and safety of the building and its contents would be intact. Borden demonstrated his commitment to upholding the highest standards in stewardship of the university’s equipment and its people.
Borden is a licensed electrical contractor and his extensive 25-year background in the building trades regularly proves to be invaluable to the campus. For example, after he became aware of chronic electrical problems in Nierenberg Hall that for years would cause the power to fail without warning, he began working to finally uncover the source. Willingly forsaking his weekends to minimize the disruption to daily operations, he and his team painstakingly tested building systems and circuits until they discovered an incorrectly wired device deep in the electrical system. Resolving a longstanding problem such as this one contributes to the satisfaction of his customers, and it also provides Borden and those he supervises with a deep sense of accomplishment and purpose that makes their hard work so worthwhile.
While Borden does a great job in preventing and mitigating crises, he also works to keep the university at the cutting edge of sustainability and energy efficiency, such as his high-temperature project to modernize how the central plant supplies the main campus with heating and hot water.
Finally, Borden is active in helping less fortunate people in the community, using his skills as a contractor and project manager to build houses and churches in Baja California. Other charities he actively supports include the City of Children orphanage, California Veterans with Disabilities and Helping Hands of El Cajon. A devoted husband and father of four, Borden also coaches his children’s baseball and softball teams.
Business Affairs: Business and Financial Services
During the past 18 months, Sean Crowder has demonstrated his ability to serve not only UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography but the campus as a whole through excellent procurement services. He has done this under difficult circumstances by substituting for his supervisor, who was out of the office for health reasons and by taking on some of additional duties. He has met these challenges and continues to exceed expectations in his assignments.
By taking leadership of the commodity group at UCSD, Crowder was able to find over $200,000 in cost savings that was directly realized by various UCSD departments. By negotiating with the fuel suppliers, he was able to help one client) realize over $70,000 in cost savings. This is an approach Crowder has taken campuswide and is now leading a team to standardize janitorial products. By doing this, Crowder will not only have a significant impact on cost savings but also bring a sustainable product impact to UCSD community. It is estimated that his project could reduce the amount of plastic brought into the campus community, saving the environment a significant amount of plastic by reducing the amount of liners from 60,000 cases to approximately 46,000. The impact reflects a reduction of 80,000 pounds of plastic annually to the campus community.
Crowder’s leadership and ability to build relationships has been invaluable to UCSD. During the past year Crowder was able to identify supplier relationships in the Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) commodity that had been neglected at a campus level. This afforded him the opportunity to build those relationships so the suppliers would have a better understanding of the university’s needs without at the same time having control of sales tactics on campus. By building relationships with the suppliers, Crowder was able to not only give the campus a single point of contact for supplier and internal concerns but also a mechanism to ensure the suppliers are adhering to UC negotiated contracts. Crowder’s actions in this field not only saved the university money but also built up its credibility among the suppliers within the MRO commodity group.
He also assisted in the Marketplace implementation at Scripps and campuswide for the MRO commodity. In doing so, when Marketplace is phased to the entire campus, there is the potential to realize $684,000 in process efficiencies. When combined with the negotiation strategies Crowder employed with strategic suppliers the cost savings reaches the $1 million mark. In the current economic climate this is a significant step forward and a great accomplishment for the UC and the campus community.
In addition to his accomplishments within the campus community, Crowder is also establishing a support network for patients with lymphoma. Earlier this year Crowder’s 28 year old sister was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. During the initial stages of her diagnosis, Crowder found that there were no support groups for patients diagnosed with this disease in the north San Diego area. Crowder is still in the initial stages of brining the support group to fruition but in the long term this will have a great benefit to patients, survivors and loved ones dealing with the effects of cancer.
Respiratory Therapist IV
UCSD Medical Center: Pulmonary Division
Using innovation, hard work and community activism, Trina Limberg has kept pulmonary rehab alive and well at UCSD Medical Center and recognized as the leading program in the greater San Diego Community with a national reputation. At a time when reimbursement for rehab services is shrinking and other hospitals are closing programs, Limberg has found ways to keep the program fiscally sound and is actually growing the business. She is remarkable in negotiating rates from other medical groups and providers and ensuring the program is structured to maximize reimbursement.
But those efforts just represent one aspect of keeping this important service viable. Limberg has also extended her reach by providing service and leadership for national organizations that led to the recent passage of new legislation in the U.S. Congress directing Medicare to establish a national coverage policy for pulmonary rehabilitation. These new guidelines will be in effect in 2010 with much credit to Limberg. She is active in a variety of professional organizations and, as prior Vice President of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and chair of the continuing care and rehabilitation specialty section of the American Association of Respiratory Care, has remained a highly knowledgeable and respected leader in this field.
Through these efforts, Limberg has remained a constant fixture on the pulmonary rehab landscape, a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by her employees or by her patients, who describe her as a “miracle worker.” These efforts not only demonstrate extraordinary service to the community, but also strengthen and support a variety of programs for the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, that ranked sixth in the nation, according to US News & World Report. Programs such as PTE, Transplant and other world-class programs benefit through the clinical excellence Limberg provides through her program.
More important is the direct impact Limberg and her team has on the lives of our patients. There is perhaps no patient more desperate than one who can’t breathe. Limberg’s team not only must address the physiology of the disease but the patient’s entire view on life. In addition, family members are equal partners in the program thanks to Limberg and the innovative tools and resources she has developed. She literally gives them and their families a new lease on life. Her patients frequently draft testimonials on their experiences encountered in Pulmonary Rehab and how it changed their life. Letters to the medical centers “we listen” program, as well as direct communication with the medical center CEO are common place, and motivate Limberg and her staff to do even better.
Every year Limberg also plans and coordinates the annual UCSD Walk for Wellness for patients, in its 24th year. This walk gets patients out with their families, walking along Mission Bay and sharing their stories and having some fun. She also has holiday parties and special events to bring patients together as well as staff. It’s both the little things, and some of the big things that Limberg does to make a difference.
Respiratory Therapist IV
UCSD Medical Center: Respiratory Therapy
For years, critical care ventilator patients were manually ventilated with an ambu bag while on transport by a respiratory therapist. Often the results were less than ideal. The patient was not receiving consistent tidal volumes or rate and every patient was transported on 100 percent oxygen. The therapist would become fatigued quickly when in long procedures, requiring other therapists to step in and assist.
In the summer of 1988, John Newhart was instrumental in the innovation of the transport ventilator to assure consistent tidal volume, rate and oxygen concentration of critically ill patients.
Newhart brought a home ventilator into the respiratory care department and designed a complete system, complete with wheels and two oxygen cylinders connected to an oxygen blender to insure the patient would be delivered the prescribed amount of oxygen. The first of its kind transport ventilator was birthed by innovation and sent into the intensive care areas to insure safe transport of the critical care patients by one therapist. UCSD Respiratory Care was the leader in the ventilator transport of critical care patient. Newhart modified six home ventilators to meet patients’ needs.
His attention to detail and innovation again sprang into action after the department purchased newer version of oximeters. These units were lighter in weight that the older version and would become dislodged from on top of the ventilator and fall to the floor, damaging them. Newhart created and designed a secure housing system that prevented further damage to the equipment. Newhart negotiated with the company to pay for the new housing of the remaining fifteen oximeters and repair the damaged oximeters that staff was responsible for damage and the company was not obligated to repair.
Newhart’s reputation in innovation coupled with his easy-going nature, assisted UCSD Respiratory Care in partnering with medical industries. The respiratory care department became the beta testing site for ventilator companies. UCSD Respiratory Care was and still is in partnership with many different medial companies to assist in the development via feedback from the RT staff who use and evaluate FDA approved medical devices. Newhart has been instrumental in securing software upgrades from several ventilator vendors at no cost to UCSD. He has also has secured six new state-of-the-art ventilators at no cost, to remain on site indefinitely. This is a cost savings of $250,000 over the past 10 years.
Newhart also was instrumental in developing Respiratory Care’s very own biomedical repair shop. The biomedical engineering department was a very busy department and Newhart again seized the moment. Micro-processing ventilators were beginning to come into the market in the late 1980’s, and Newhart received approval from his director and administration to receive training directly from the manufacturers of the ventilators. Newhart also has a national reputation as an expert in exotic gases used in the critical care setting. He was instrumental in working to create the technology that allowed for the clinical delivery of Nitric Oxide.
He also helped a young patient diagnosed with debilitating pulmonary hypertension take back her life from this disease. This young woman would have been home bound, unable to work or experience the simple pleasures of life. Her condition was brought to his attention by the physician caring for her. Newhart’s reputation as an innovative inventor was well-known throughout the hospital and community. He created the first-ever home delivery system for Nitric Oxide, a highly expensive gas, that delivered the gas mixture only on inspiration—a huge cost saving for the patient. The ability to enjoy life again, to work, even have a workout routine in the gym was not just a dream, but became reality. It would be impossible to put a price tag on such a gift.
Academic Affairs: Mathematics
Natalie Powell has brought about significant positive change in support of the university’s mission in her role as Contracts & Grants Manager in the mathematics department. She continually helps resolve challenges that interfere with the department’s ability to comply with federal and UC policy and regulations.
Since math has many international visitors and processes around 400 travel reimbursements per year, Powell has become the "go to" expert on travel and visa issues for the department and even the campus. Her extensive research and familiarity with UCOP's G28 has been instrumental in addressing many reimbursement questions from principal investigators. For example, a PI requested reimbursement on his frequent flyer miles and this program was not adequately addressed in the G28 to Powell or the PI’s satisfaction. She presented this need for greater clarity to staff at UC Travel and a more definitive statement now appears in the revised G28 edition.
On a visa issue, there was a discrepancy about how Canadian citizens could be reimbursed and Powell discovered that Travel and the International Center (IC) were not in agreement with each other about how to interpret these government rules. Her tenacity and research led the International Center to change their interpretation to more directly comply with stated federal regulations and IC is now working to get the Travel office to update their web-site with the correct policy.
Powell works tirelessly with individual PIs to ensure that their grants are compliant with agency's requirements and that their proposals make the submission deadline. She goes the extra mile to accommodate and process last minute proposals, spending many late hours and occasional weekends to complete faculty projects. As Associate Dean Jeff Remmel noted, "Given the increased number of grants the mathematics department now processes, Natalie is always working on multiple grant applications and she does an excellent job of dealing with the many competing demands of her various clients."
Powell also served as the President of the Staff Association in 2007-08 and continues to be a tireless volunteer, filling in for the current president and various committee chairs when needed. During her term, she was an effective, personable representative for UCSD on the system-wide Council of Staff Assemblies (CUCSA) and built strong relationships with many San Diego businesses who contributed abundantly to free raffle and gift prizes for various staff functions. She worked closely with the Chancellor's Office and, as Claire Kristofco stated, "In her work with the Staff Associations, Natalie ensured that she reflected the needs of the staff in regular meetings with campus senior leadership. She consistently advocated for staff as equal partners in UCSD's growth and success."
One of her greatest morale-building accomplishments during her tenure was creating and launching the first “UCSD American Idol” competition at the Staff Association Picnic. She ensured the success of this first show by providing rehearsals for the volunteer contestants to help them overcome any stage fright and sing their absolute best. This contest has become a favorite and much anticipated tradition at the annual staff picnic.
She also cares about the people who others tend to forget, our Night Shift staff. She participates in the "Celebrate the Night" function to assure that these staff feel appreciated and included in the campus community. She is a member of UJIMA and truly lives the principles of fostering a nurturing and welcoming community for the African-American staff, faculty, students and alumni. She is a champion of diversity, self-responsibility and community, volunteering whenever possible with the university's Special Events Office. In all of these activities, and more, Powell volunteers her time and organizational talents to make UCSD a better community for all and a great place to have a career.
In the outside community, Powell is an active member of her church and has been nominated for the "2009 Women Inc. Community Award" for her service efforts. The purpose of Women, Inc. is to develop civic programs to meet the needs of our society, and to honor women who are making worthwhile contributions as volunteers for the betterment of the community. She participates on her church’s "Bereavement Committee" and extends her organizational and humanistic talents to all in their time of need. She is the first to step in to assist people during their most vulnerable time.
Electrical Technician – Supervisor
UCSD Medical Center: Clinical Engineering Services
Rick Rambo is a dedicated, caring member of his team whose behaviors and action exemplify core values and commitment to excellence. He serves on numerous committees, such as the Environment of Care, Failure Mode and Effect Analysis for IV and PCA pumps and Code Blue to ensure our policies and practices for medical equipment selection and handling support an environment of safety for our patients.
Rambo was a key player in the change over from Medtronics defibrillators to Zoll defibrillators after identifying critical failure trends and excess recalls from Medtronics. Rambo is also diligent and passionate in working with departments to ensure equipment compliance to regulatory agencies and extending the life of the campus’ assets. He sends out monthly reminders to staff about checking equipment for its next inspection date. Rambo is committed to equipment safety and provides constant feedback to departments when trends indicate a need for education and then assists in providing the education. He is working on his current discovery of disposable equipment, which does not currently have a classification in the Medical Center equipment program. He has identified and is working to resolve this potential compliance issue where other equipment programs in the community have left this issue unanswered.
Rambo is a founding and board member of the San Diego Chapter of the California Medical Instrumentation Association (CMIA), dedicated to the promotion, education and information exchange of the state’s biomedical engineering community. He has led the selection of their training program and identified vendors to support the development and expansion of the biomed community in San Diego. Due to Rambo’s support and encouragement, biomed techs at UCSD have joined this association and gained valuable training and networking opportunities not otherwise available to them; such as working with Scripps, Sharp, and VA biomeds to discuss the maintenance and repair of ventilators, sterilizers, and other medical equipment.
Recently, Rambo took the initiative of bringing ultrasound service in-house. Through his affiliation with CMIA, Rambo set up a training program for UCSD’s biomed techs to receive basic ultrasound service training at no charge. He then worked with a third party vendor to adopt a share risk program eliminating the need for manufacturer service but still providing technical and financial guarantees at the same level as or exceeding the level of the manufacturer. In addition, Rambo met with each department and due to his reputation and relationship with staff was able to sell the program and get the department’s buy in to cancel the contract and use an in-house biomed for maintenance of their ultrasound equipment. The initiative will save the Medical Center $175,000 annually, with the potential of up to $300,000 annually, and has improved the service to clinical departments.
Principal Administrative Analyst – Supervisor
UCSD Medical Center: Workers’ Compensation
Under Cynthia Rowe’s leadership, the Workers’ Compensation Unit has been instrumental in guiding organizational practices to reduce the rate UCSD Medical Center pays for work compensation. When Rowe joined the Work Comp Unit in 2000, the program was in a huge deficit and the medical center was paying a whopping $5.85 per every $100 of payroll just to cover work-related employee injuries and illness. The costs, based on the rate of injuries and the severity of illness, was diverting millions of dollars away from our essential mission as an academic medical center. Rowe built a committed team of dedicated professionals with a focus on excellence in claims handling and employee safety. The critical element in reducing future costs is the strategic focus on employee safety via the Ergonomics and Incident Investigation Programs implemented by Rowe. The effects of Rowe’s vision regarding workers’ compensation have been felt, not only in the reduction of both the number and severity of claims, but has a positive impact on the quality of work life of every employee.
Today, thanks to these efforts, the UCSD Medical Center pays the lowest Workers’ Compensation rate (less than $2 per $100 in payroll costs) of all the UC hospitals. The Workers’ Compensation Unit was recently recognized by the UC Office of the President for this achievement. At the recent UC Risk Summit the UCSD Medical Center Workers’ Compensation Unit earned the award for “Best Reduction in Rate” and “Best Rate for UC Medical Centers.” This achievement represents a return of millions of dollars over the past five years to fund the UCSD Medical Center mission and goals in support of patient care, physician training and support of the community.
The rate reduction has also funded important employee safety initiatives including the Safe Patient Handling Program, which made the purchase of patient-lift equipment to reduce employee injuries and improve patient outcomes; the Ergonomics matching funds program that facilitates the purchase of equipment and furniture to reduce the risk of cumulative trauma injuries; and the BackSafe and Sitting Safe training to empower employees to reduce their risk of musculoskeletal injuries. The Workers’ Compensation Unit was also recognized, as part of the overall Risk Management Program, by UCOP for “Best Practices” in risk management. The importance of saving the medical center critical funds in these this harsh economic environment is a proud accomplishment. Of equal importance to Rowe is the health and safety of all medical center employees.
Rowe shuns the spotlight for herself and is always quick to give credit for the department’s accomplishments to her team even for the contributions she makes outside of her role as the Workers’ Compensation Manager. For example, she is an avid crafter and regularly donates blankets that she knits to the Moores Cancer Patient and Family Resource Center. Each blanket she makes includes an inscription that reads, “Stitched with love and prayers for healing. UCSD Medical Center Workers’ Comp Unit.”
Rowe serves on the UCSD Medical Center’s Pandemic Planning Committee and participates in tabletop drills to keep the Medical Center in a constant state of readiness. She shares her emergency preparedness knowledge with her church. She assisted in planning an emergency response program for them that includes having disaster supplies on hand for the community.
Cynthia ends every telephone call by saying, “Is there anything else I can do to help?” Anyone who hears this should feel assured that she will do everything she can.
Jessica St. Clair
Senior Paralegal Specialist
Student Affairs: Student Policies and Judicial Affairs
Over the past year, Jessica St. Clair has exceeded all expectations in executing her duties as Legal Education Coordinator for Student Legal Services. She has provided outstanding free and confidential individual and group counseling and education on all types of legal topics to hundreds of graduate and undergraduate UC San Diego students within the past year.
St. Clair also has successfully and effectively conducted, arranged as well as participated in over 100 workshops and seminars on a variety of legal issues, offering preventive legal education to thousands of UC San Diego students over the past year. She has provided many such workshops on weekends and after regular business hours, at times and locations convenient to students.
St. Clair also has received specialized training in the field of mediation and alternative dispute resolution, and frequently uses her advanced mediation skills in working to resolve disputes and issues on behalf of students and colleagues. She is an attorney licensed by the State of California, though licensure is not required by her position.
She also recently created “Discover the Law,” a certificate program offered to all UC San Diego students featuring a series of lectures and discussions on various areas of law as well as careers in the legal field. She has collaborated with Career Services, the UC San Diego Libraries, Commuter Student Services, Transfer Student Services, the Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Resource Center, the United States Bankruptcy Court, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and various other campus and San Diego community partners in offering the program. She has personally conducted many of the workshops. More than 125 students are currently participating in the program, and many students have proposed that the program continue to be offered in the future.
She is currently spearheading the “Tax Outreach Program,” in which she has trained and presently supervises 11 UC San Diego student volunteers in providing resources and information to UC San Diego students and community members for preparing and filing federal and state income tax returns. She is working in conjunction with the IRS and FTB in offering this program. She also headed the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which required her to be on campus for a majority of Saturdays over the course of 2008 in order to train students and assist taxpayers.
For 2007-2008, St. Clair volunteered to serve as Department Coordinator for the Student Affairs division for the UC San Diego United Way/CHAD campaign, and it was her suggested theme, “U Can Spark Dreams (UCSD),” that was adopted for the 2007-2008 campaign. She served as the Department Coordinator for Student Affairs for the 2008-2009 campaign.
Notwithstanding her substantial commitment of time and effort to her job at UC San Diego and to the campus community, she has managed to dedicate time outside of work to successfully complete a master’s program in forensic science, earning her degree in late 2008.
She remains dedicated to serving juveniles and children throughout the San Diego community. When not fulfilling her other volunteer and occupational responsibilities, she serves on the Juvenile Justice Commission for San Diego County and is currently completing her first year of a four-year appointment. In addition, she appears on Sundays at the San Diego Museum of Natural History, teaching two classes each and every Sunday to children and families about the mysteries of science.
Hospital Laboratory Technician IV – Supervisor
Health Sciences: Ophthalmology
Marguerite “Margie” Wilson wears many hats in the department of ophthalmology at the UCSD Shiley Eye Center—she is a supervisor, technician, teacher, mentor, volunteer, mediator and friend. She participates in and excels at all elements of the missions of UCSD and the Shiley Eye Center—patient care, research, education and community service. She represents the highest quality of the UCSD Standards of: Principles of Community, Diversity, Health and Safety,and Customer Service.
Wilson is the supervisor of all the ophthalmic technicians at Shiley, scheduling her staff of 20 and overseeing many aspects of the patient clinical care. She has implemented many cost-saving strategies and closely monitors all the pharmaceuticals in the clinic. She is in charge of the daily triage unit and fields all sorts of emergency calls from patients usually in distress. She handles these with confidentiality, care and promptness. There are many patients who “only want to talk to Margie” when they call.
Wilson is fantastic with the patient/donor population as well — she has even purchased prescriptions with her own money and mailed them to patients. She has built strong relationships with her counterparts across the country within technical associations and industry representatives; these relationships have helped to implement best patient practices and cost-effective strategies for the department. In 1997, she was one of three awarded the Outstanding Staff Award at UCSD.
When Wilson started at Shiley in 1996, she was teaching the Ophthalmic Medical Assisting class from Palomar College Regional Occupation Program. At Palomar, she had taught this class Thursday evenings from 6 to 9:50 p.m. After coming to Shiley, she asked if the class could be moved here. This has enabled a second semester to be added that could take advantage of the examination equipment for a “hands-on” experience thus allowing the students to learn to use the typical instruments in an ophthalmic exam. Both Palomar College and the Shiley Eye Center have been excited by this partnership. Over the past 20 years, her class has graduated hundreds of ophthalmic technicians. These graduates are now serving the San Diego ophthalmic community.
Wilson’s teaching has also had a significant impact upon the staff development and retention at the Shiley Eye Center. It has led to the creation of career paths for employees in both research and clinical areas, which has contributed to the recruitment, promotion and retention of many employees. Currently 13 of the 20 Shiley ophthalmic technicians, as well as numerous staff in the research groups, have graduated from this program. Many of these staff members have met certification requirements of the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel (JCAHPO) at Wilson’s encouragement. She keeps her own skills updated with the San Diego County Ophthalmic Medical Assistant Association and frequently lectures at the American Academy of Ophthalmology conferences as part of the JCAHPO. She has taught several Shiley “Lunch and Learn” sessions, spreading her high energy teamwork principles throughout Shiley.
Wilson also has been volunteering for the Flying Samaritans at a Tecate, Mexico, eye clinic for the past 18 years where they care for infants to seniors. There is a surgery center for adults only (the children have to come to the United States due to anesthesia constraints). This is a once a month weekend commitment from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. In the clinic area, she screens 30 to 40 patients for eye pathology per visit, performs vision screenings, carries out refractions for eyeglasses and refers patients to local American ophthalmologists for serious cases. In the surgery area, she has been the first assistant technician for cataract surgeries and a circulator (which provides for the instruments and medication for the doctors during surgery).
Recently, Wilson identified an almost blind child, Adolfo, age 5, with cataracts and facilitated his referral to the Shiley pediatric ophthalmology unit for surgery and follow-up care. He is now seeing just like every little boy his age. From her many contacts, she collects and neutralizes hundreds of old donated eyeglasses for dispensing at the Tecate clinic. Wilson also trains volunteers ranging in age from high school students to seniors who want to get involved with the Flying Samaritans and the clinic.