Tell us a little about yourself, Loretta.
My name is Loretta. I went to school at Hurley Medical Center in Michigan. They used to have an in-hospital program, and it was a level one trauma as well as Vanderbilt. So I’ve been doing trauma since then. I really enjoy it. [We] moved to Tennessee about 10 years ago after my husband was offered a position in Spring Hill.
What makes Spring Hill special to you?
I love Spring hill because it’s such a tight-knit community, neighbors willing to help neighbors, just a really friendly community, small-town feel.
How did you get into Radiology?
I actually knew I wanted to help people. I was in school, taking my prerequisites for medical and saw… was seeing in their catalog for radiology technologists and decided to job shadow. And after I job shadowed, I knew it was a job for me. There’s just a big variety. It’s never the same.
Tell us a little about Vanderbilt.
I like that there’s always a chance to move forward in your positions there. And I work in radiology, so it’s a smaller department, and we’re like a close-knit family. We have, I want to say about 45 in the radiology department, but I work with the same probably 10 people every day.
How has the pandemic affected your work?
It was difficult getting used to wearing the PPE every time you enter the patient’s room. We basically x-ray all of the Coronavirus patients because breathing is a respiratory disease, so they all come through… Most of them come through x-ray anytime there’s any kind of breathing issues or coughing, or if they should, unfortunately, end up on a ventilator, we have to make sure the intubation goes okay and the tubes are in the right position. So we’re constantly being affected by it and in contact with these patients, and even just the patients that weren’t Coronavirus, they were all stuck in their rooms, no visitors. And we push portable x-ray units throughout the hospital and they would sit there and we would just wave at the patients because they couldn’t have visitors and they were so lonely. So I mean, we do all the patients, but I mean the Coronavirus ones, it was mainly getting used to the PPE and trying to get our hands on it. It’s not a problem anymore, but originally it was difficult.
Do you feel as though things have gotten better?
Yes. We actually haven’t had a lot of patients transferred in, so we at times had over a hundred Coronavirus patients in the hospital at a time. And I mean, I would say it fluctuates. We’re down to usually less than 20 now. It’s definitely improved.
Why do you think it’s important for you to continue your work right now?
I would just say, I don’t think a lot of people realize the after-effects of COVID on the patients and the lasting symptoms. People are having lifelong breathing issues and scarring of their lungs. And so this is going to be a continued thing for these patients where they’re going to have to return and seek treatment for years. And so it’s just going to be an ongoing thing with the hospitals and the patients. So it’s going to be around for us for a very long time yet.
What about your work makes you the most proud?
I just like being able to help people. I mean, they come in at their worst usually. As I said, I really enjoy our trauma aspect. We’re a level one trauma center. And you see people that come in and they’re broken up, they’re scared. They don’t know what’s going on. And I go in and I have to assist the doctor so that they can see what they need to do. And while I’m x-raying the patients, we also get a chance to get to know the patient and comfort them and help them relax through some of this to distract them from their pain as, say I’m x-raying broken arm, I’ll ask them about their family, if they have kids. Just somebody to help them relax and feel comfortable during that.
What do you think is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is probably when we’re unable to help somebody. When you’re doing an x-ray or imaging, a lot of times we see things in the imaging that we can’t relate to the patient. And so we diagnose heart disease, cancers, COVID through x-rays, and because of the years I’ve done it, I’ve learned to pick up on some of these diseases or illnesses. And yet you have to continue to go to the patient with a smile on your face and pretend like everything’s okay. And because I obviously don’t read the x-rays, I’ve learned to pick up on some of the things in them, but it’s just not… When you get to a point that we can no longer help them or I can’t offer them advice.
What do you like to do outside of work to relax?
I love to travel with my family and we go out, take our boat out on the lake on the weekends a lot of times as a family and their friends, and just spend a lot of time together. About three years ago, we went to Australia and New Zealand. And that was an amazing trip. Probably my favorite ever. We enjoyed the Sydney Opera House, the Australia Zoo, the great barrier reef. It was just an amazing trip.
What do you look forward to the most about things returning to normal again?
Traveling is one of them. But what I miss most is when you’re walking down the streets and you smile at somebody, you can actually see them smile back. People’s facial expressions, to be honest, what I miss the most when interacting with people is just their facial reaction. And that’s even in the hospital too, just to know who’s treating you and who we’re seeing. But yeah, I would say just the facial expressions and smiling.
Who do you think is most responsible for you being the person you are today?
I would say my family, my husband, and my children. I stayed at home when my kids were young, and then when they went to school, I just wanted to get out of the house and do something, but also have an income where I could provide and do fun things with my family. And my husband really supported me. My kids supported me. So I would say my husband and kids were probably the main influencers.
Who are your personal heroes?
I would have to say teachers right now. My sister is a teacher and I don’t know how they have managed to adjust to the Zoom learning or the new way of teaching out of the classrooms. Having to deal with that. And as well as not just the teachers, but the parents that are usually out of the house, and now they’re working from home trying to help their kids with their education from home. And I just feel children learn better from others as far as that. They don’t want to listen to mom and dad. Yeah. But the teachers and all that they’ve gone through and trying to figure out a way to make this work.
We already think of you as a superhero Kristen, but if you could choose one superhero power, what would it be?
I think it would be to fly. I’d like to be able to get up above the world and look down and see what I’m getting myself into. See a situation, to be able to look down at something before I jump into action with it!
What advice would you give someone if they asked?
Let the small things go. Keep smiling. You don’t know what somebody is going through. It might be worse than what you’re going through. So just try to stay positive and keep a smile on your face.
Thank you for all that you do and for taking the time to talk with us today, Loretta. Stay safe and have a good rest of your week.
For sacrificing her time and doing all she can to help those in medical need, we’re proud to award Loretta with the Hardin’s Heroes title, certificate, and a donation of $500 to her chosen charity: MusiCares