Unless you’re awaiting results from a medical test, it can be easy to forget the white-coated laboratory team. But behind those locked doors, you’ll find people who have spent a lot of their lives analyzing tiny microbes, looking for disease and health.
Gary Gavette is one of them. Starting at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital (SPCH) as a medical laboratory technician in July 1986, he just celebrated 31 years of service in the lab.
“People out in the community ask me what I do, and I tell them, I’m the guy in the back testing your blood or helping to determine if you have strep throat or not,” he said.
“We’re a jack of all trades here, really. My area is chemistry, but I also do microbiology, hematology, blood bank, and I’m even somewhat of a mechanic with the instruments. We all do a bit of everything,” he said.
After graduation from MedTech at OHSU in 1980, he began his career in the lab at the now-defunct New Lincoln Hospital in Toledo, Ore., before coming to SPCH. After three decades in his profession, Gavette has seen many changes.
“Testing has grown more complicated and has increased in number. In fact, many of the tests that are done today weren’t even available when I started,” he noted.
Perhaps the biggest change arrived with automation. We used to measure nearly everything by hand, and now with automation, one lab tech can do many more tests in one day,” he said. “That has been a truly amazing change.
”While he enjoys his work and the people he has worked with over the years, Gavette’s longevity at SPCH has coincided with his love for the Newport community. He has come to know many people over the years through his time coaching boys’ basketball and football and girls’ golf.“
Once I got involved in the community, the place, and the workplace as a result, felt like home,” he said. “I can’t run to Fred Meyer without running into someone I know, and that helped me want to stay.”
At one time, he and his wife, both of whom grew up in the Portland area, had goals of getting back to Portland. “Now, I can’t wait to leave Portland,” he said with a laugh. “We live in a very unique place here. I like taking the dogs for a walk on the beach. I have come to appreciate a really nice day. I like the fact that I can leave my house and be at work in five minutes. I think life is more simple here, and I enjoy that.”
Gavette is one of three SPCH employees recognized for 30 years of service at a recent employee event. The annual celebration honors employees with five years of service and more.