“I had been working at Madison General,” said Carol. “The pathologist there was the pathologist in Columbus. He knew that I was getting married and moving to Columbus.”

After just two weeks being married to Bob Black of Columbus, Carol started her position at Prairie Ridge Health making a salary of $415 a month.

The hospital’s patient census grew over the next 13 years and in 1979 a new hospital opened at 1515 Park Avenue in Columbus. “My husband was president of the Prairie Ridge Health Board of Directors at that time,” said Carol. “It was an exciting time and our hospital has grown since that time.”

Carol also donated her time to PRH by becoming a member of the PRH Auxiliary. “I joined the auxiliary in about 1969. Then I became involved as a volunteer buyer in the Cottage Gift Shoppe and soon the volunteer manager of the shop.” Carol continued volunteering as the shop’s manager into the 1990s. In addition, she served as president of the PRH Auxiliary (now the Volunteers of PRH) in 1992, 1993, and 2009. “I enjoy helping out the organization that I work for.”

Processes in the laboratory environment have changed dramatically over the past 50 years according to Carol. “When I first started we had manual tests, then slowly added machines to ensure better results, and then we first went automated with chemistry and hematology,” she explained. “Automated meant you never touched the sample once you placed it in the instrument.”

Carol explained that when technology began advancing in the laboratory setting, changes would happen every 6 months or once a year. “Now almost every day something new is added. The pace of change has increased that much,” she said, commenting on the number of regulations and quality control standards a laboratory needs to adhere to in today’s world . “It’s challenging. It is a faster pace than it ever was.”

The laboratory provides the information the physicians and other providers need in order to treat their patients and assist with diagnosis. “You have to be able to troubleshoot and be a detective,” said Carol. Carol remembers running about 40 tests a day during a five-hour work day back in the 1960s. Now, the PRH laboratory runs 10,000 inpatient and outpatient tests each month and 24-hour lab services are offered.

A medical technologist degree was a four-year degree when Carol began. Now lab careers are also available to graduates with one and two-year degrees.

What keeps Carol working after over 50 years in the laboratory? “The people,” she explained. “I like working as a team with other departments to make the patient better.” Carol explained that in a small hospital, a medical technologist is able to meet the patient, run the patient’s sample, and then see the patient again. “In a larger hospital you don’t have as much of a connection with patients.”

In her spare time, Carol enjoys quilting, gardening, and cooking every Sunday for her children and grandchildren. And she plans on continuing to work at Prairie Ridge Health.

“I like the people I work with. I’ve been working with some of them for 30 years,” said Carol. “I enjoy working with a group of people who want to do a good job and take care of patients.”