My COVID-19 Story: Ansel Oommen

A clinical laboratory technologist reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic from inside the lab.

Ansel Oommen sharing his My COVID-19 Story
Ansel Oommen sharing his My COVID-19 Story

Ansel Oommen is a 28-year-old clinical lab technologist who works the night shift at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Ansel worked twenty nights in a row at the beginning of the outbreak because he knows that technologists are needed to oversee COVID-19 tests and that there’s a shortage of technologists. Here, he reflects on his work on the front lines of this pandemic.

A view inside and NYP COVID-19 testing lab.

Listen to Ansel’s story from inside the lab.

Oftentimes, clinical laboratory technologists are out of sight and as a result, out of mind in the public realm, even though we are just as impacted by this pandemic as our other colleagues in health care. The paradox of being a technologist is that our patients are physically present (through their samples), but not entirely, and they are psychologically present (when we view their charts or call their providers), but not entirely either. Despite this ambiguousness, when dealing with hundreds of samples per day and viewing the results before everyone else, we feel the brewing storm looming over the horizon just the same. There is a strange sense of heaviness in the air that lingers after we release results. In a split second, we know that countless lives will be changed. Yet, amidst the strange climate we all find ourselves in, somewhere in the atmosphere, there is also a sense of solidarity and purpose. Behind the thick cover of clouds, there is still light, and we must all work together to find our own sunrise in the upcoming darkness. These pictures give a glimpse of a world that very few get to see and even fewer get to truly understand.