Technologist celebrates 40th anniversary
May 18, 2022
When Saline Memorial Hospital got its first ultrasound, an ATL Mark 100, Cathy Seals and her boss Barbara Varnon were the first to learn how to use it. At the time, Seals worked in nuclear medicine, and she balanced her time between ultrasounds and nuclear medicine for a while.
The ATL Mark 100 was analog and black and white; Seals jokes that image was so pixelated that you could count each individual pixel. Over time, the quality of the ultrasound equipment improved, and the volume of ultrasound requests grew to the point that now the hospital has three ultrasound machines and three technologists to operate them. Seals is still one of them. She celebrates her 40th anniversary today: May 18, 2022.
“I have always liked the hospital, and I have worked with a lot of good people here,” Seals said. “The people make Saline special.”
Seals grew up in Benton and then went to college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She left college for a time when she got married and had her first two children, but then she finished college while she was pregnant with her third child.
She started working at Saline Memorial Hospital when her children were still small because it was close to home, so she could get to her family when needed. Varnon particularly made her feel welcome, including getting to know Seals’ family.
“She just knew how to put you at ease,” Seals said. “She knew how to make you laugh, and she was good to my family.”
Seals has enjoyed working in diagnostic imaging because even though the work becomes routine, every person and situation is different. Even routine procedures sometimes yield unexpected findings. For example, once while she was turning a patient who was having the aorta checked, she found a mass on a kidney that turned out to be cancerous.
“To be able to actually see anatomy and to be able to find abnormal anatomy and to feel like you made a difference, it’s been pretty rewarding,” Seals said. “It’s not always a lot of fun, but mostly rewarding.”
The other members of the diagnostic imaging team said they love getting to work with Seals because they know they can rely on her experience.
“I just know that when I hand off a mammogram patient to her for an ultrasound, that patient is going to be taken care of,” said Patti Chilton, X-ray technologist. “She is very thorough, very professional, and she always does an excellent job.”
Chilton herself has been at Saline for 31 years, and several others on the diagnostic imaging team have more than 10 years of experience.
Working with such an experienced team has been a huge benefit to newer technologists, like Kelly Efurd, who joined the team about a year ago.
“I feel like I can learn a lot from them because they are so experienced,” Efurd said. “They have lots of pointers that they can share.”
Saline patients also benefit from having experienced imaging technologists like Seals, according to Lisa Hyde, diagnostic imaging director.
“Our team is blessed to have people like Cathy with so much dedication and experience,” Hyde said. “We rely on their knowledge and skill to provide high quality care to our patients.”