By Darren Simon
7:25 PM PDT, August 9, 2012
When patients are sent to the Nuclear Medicine Department at Pioneers Memorial Hospital, they are often facing a frightening moment in their lives.
Everything about the 12-by-16 foot room that houses the department is intimidating, largely because of the massive gamma camera in the center of the room designed to scan the body and provide images that will be used to diagnose a patient’s illness.
Anxieties can run high as patients face the fear of the unknown.
But as patients lie on the camera platform and glance up, they find themselves staring into ceiling panels turned into colorful murals — of fish, of cats, of flowers — images meant to help make what will undoubtedly be a scary experience a little more comfortable.
This is April Andersen’s corner of Pioneers, and after 20 years as a Nuclear Medicine technologist, six of those years at the Brawley hospital, her focus is to connect with patients, to calm them and to guide them through a difficult procedure that ultimately could provide the information necessary to save their lives.
She painted the ceiling panels not because she is an artist but because it was a way to help soothe patients — to take their focus away from the massive imaging device. As friends say, it is so “her” to do that — to go that extra step to help others when they need help the most.
Andersen’s specialty within the field of radiology has her working with patients for extended periods of time. She wouldn’t have it any other way. It gives her a chance to create a bond with patients.
“I enjoy getting to sit down and talk with them to get to know them,” says Andersen, Pioneer’s chief Nuclear Medicine technologist. “I want to be able to help them even if it is to just make them feel better by cracking a joke.”
Andersen works within a specialization that not many people are trained to do, and even fewer understand. In Nuclear Medicine, radioactive pharmaceuticals are injected into patients to target specific organs or cellular receptors, like bones. The gamma camera will then be able to capture images from the radiation emitted from the injected pharmaceuticals.
Read more about April Andersen in the July/August 2012 edition of Valley Women Magazine in print or our online E-Edition.
Copyright © 2013, Imperial Valley Press