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Retirement beckons for Wagga Wagga’s Sheena Hatfield after more than 46 years of caring for the community.

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19th June, 2024

Medical Laboratory Technician at NSW Health Pathology’s Wagga Wagga Laboratory, Sheena Hatfield, reflects on her career which began in 1978.

In the heart of Wag­ga Wagga’s NSW Health Pathol­o­gy Lab­o­ra­to­ry, there isn’t a depart­ment or dis­ci­pline that Sheena hasn’t worked in.

Sheena is a spe­cial per­son whose career has spanned 46 and a half years and has left a mark on both her col­leagues in the lab and local patients.

Sheena joined the Rive­ri­na Col­lege of Advanced Edu­ca­tion (which lat­er became Charles Sturt Uni­ver­si­ty) and start­ed a cadet­ship in 1978 spe­cial­is­ing in pathol­o­gy. She’s been at Wag­ga Wag­ga lab ever since, work­ing her away around the var­i­ous departments.

In that time, Sheena has wit­nessed many changes in tech­nolo­gies, process­es and sur­vived a glob­al pandemic.

She worked though many chal­lenges dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, which saw work­loads increase for every­one in health – espe­cial­ly for the micro­bi­ol­o­gy team where she most recent­ly worked in.

“Some of my career high­lights include per­se­ver­ing through­out the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic – these were very dif­fi­cult times for every­one par­tic­u­lar­ly Micro­bi­ol­o­gy Teams who were pro­cess­ing high vol­umes of COVID-19 swabs, day in and day out.

“I was so proud to be part of the local team and our com­mu­ni­ty who real­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed to look out for each oth­er and min­imise spread of the infection.”

Anoth­er thing that will stay with Sheena is tran­si­tion­ing from man­u­al tech­niques in the ear­ly years to auto­mat­ed plat­forms, as labs start­ed to become more modernised.

“The lab­o­ra­to­ry used to be ful­ly man­u­al, and so much time and effort was spent on each indi­vid­ual sam­ple. How­ev­er, as times have changed and tech­nol­o­gy has advanced, we’ve seen much big­ger and more pow­er­ful machines installed to facil­i­tate and expe­dite work­flow, allow­ing us to increase vol­ume of work and test­ing we can per­form locally.

But Micro­bi­ol­o­gy and Trans­fu­sion dis­ci­plines still required some man­u­al sci­en­tif­ic work and inter­pre­ta­tion, so this was a big attrac­tion for me to stay work­ing in these depart­ments,” she said.

Sheena is look­ing for­ward to her retire­ment, where she plans to slow down, spend more time in her gar­den and get along to St Kilda’s footy games.

She has been a friend to so many, a ded­i­cat­ed team mem­ber and will be great­ly missed.

Sheena’s final shift at Wag­ga Wag­ga will be on Fri­day 12 July 2024.

Thanks for your incred­i­ble work Sheena, and enjoy retirement!



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