UP Health System – Portage Heroes | Ruth Harmala, MLS
February 9, 2024
What is your role at UP Health System – Portage?
I am a lead medical technologist in the hospital laboratory. I received my Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).
What was your inspiration for getting into healthcare?
I’ve always had a deep love for the sciences and learning new things. I was inspired from a young age by the people around me to find a career where I could help others.
What’s a typical day like for you? What is it like working in this field?
Each day brings something new! I work in a variety of departments throughout the lab—hematology, chemistry or the blood bank. We can go from finding a new leukemia diagnosis in one minute to issuing lifesaving blood products for a patient in another minute. We run routine outpatient labs all day while managing urgent specimens from the inpatient units and the Emergency Department. Often you can find me working on our latest laboratory improvement project. During my time here at UPHS – Portage, we’ve brought in over five new tests and platforms to provide the best care for our patients.
How long have you been employed here? Have you always been in the same position?
I’ve been here at Portage for a little over a year in my current position.
What are some of the big changes you have experienced in this position?
The world of laboratory diagnostics is constantly changing. New technologies and biomarkers are continually being created and discovered. Even in my short career as an MLS, I’ve seen a shift toward advanced technologies like polymerase chain reaction (PCR). These molecular tests help us to shorten testing turnaround times and provide a diagnosis more quickly for our patients.
What are some of your interests outside of work? What is your favorite local gem?
I’m an avid lover of all of the outdoor activities the Keweenaw has to offer. You can find me hiking or mountain biking during the summer months or skiing in the winter. I also love to curl up with a good book and my knitting during a UP snowstorm. Any of our local beaches and lakes are one of my favorite things about the Keweenaw. There’s nothing quite a sauna and dunk in the lake!
What do you enjoy most about working at UPHS – Portage?
My favorite part about working here at Portage is the people. I’ve worked in a few different places, even on the other side of the world, but there’s nothing like working side by side with my friends and neighbors while serving my hometown community.