Mercy Health Love County - News

Laboratory Director Likes Career More and More

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Kelvin McMillan, MLT (ASCP),
Laboratory Services Director
For years, laboratory director Kelvin McMillan has been freely advising young people to load up on science and computer classes and consider becoming a laboratory specialist.
With good reason: Medical laboratory technologist consistently ranks among “The 50 Best Careers” in U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey of high-demand careers.
But, more than that, scientific advance in disease detection shows up first in the laboratory, the place, the magazine says, where the “unsung heroes of the healthcare industry” conduct the crucial tests and analyses that physicians use to diagnose patients and make a treatment plan.
Each day of McMillan’s 35 years in the field seems to bring new ways to help patients get a treatment plan at the earliest opportunity. “We use tests for detecting the presence of such things as cardiac disease, cancer, HIV, strokes, and blood clots that didn’t exist when I started.”
But today he’s excited about the advent of testing at the “molecular level.” “We’ll look for strings of DNA to identify organisms in diseases. We’ll be able to diagnose before antibodies show up.” As an example, rheumatoid arthritis might be identified at the first sign of a stiff joint and preventive care launched before the disease takes hold.
The first molecular test, for MRSA, a staph infection resistant to antibiotics, is due in the laboratory soon.
"In high school, I was fascinated by chemistry and looking through the microscope. I wanted to help mankind locally, immediately, and have my hands in it. God made Kelvin to fit in the laboratory."
McMillan holds a bachelor's degree in medical laboratory science and certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.
Before joining the hospital in 2009, he and his wife, Ava, a medical histotech/pathology assistant, operated a laboratory advisement service. They helped laboratories get up and running and operate in compliance with federal regulations.