At some point in time, everyone needs bloodwork done and for some, it is a part of everyday life. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the medical lab technologists at Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) in the Cochrane Urgent Care Centre are specially trained to help patients deal with the phobias and fears associated with needles and blood work.

The program is called Commitment to Comfort, and it is for all ages not just children as 25 per cent of adults along with 60 per cent of children have a fear of needles. Joanne Marten and her team at Alberta Precision Laboratories (formerly known as Calgary Lab Services) in the Cochrane Urgent Care are trained to help.

Ten-year-old Emily McKervy's story is one that attests to the effectiveness of the Commitment to Comfort program that is used by the Cochrane team. Emily and Joanne Marten met about two years ago when Emily was diagnosed with cancer and had to endure numerous procedures while suffering from an extreme fear of needles. Emily says, “When I first started, I was really scared I hardly wanted to go. […] My mom and my dad both had to come to hold my arm or something but now I can just do it without anybody holding me and Jo just telling me, it’s okay it might have a little pinch at first but you’ll go through it.” Using her specialized training, Marten patiently worked with Emily and built a relationship of trust that in turn created a special bond that helped Emily overcome her fear and discomfort with needles.  

Marten who used to work at the Children’s Hospital was familiar with the Comfort program that originated there and is now utilized by the labs and clinics. She and her team faithfully use the program because as Marten says, “We see tons of kids, we had to make another room we see so many. We just take our time, and they know they can trust us.” They have theme rooms which include an ocean room and jungle room and walls that are covered with paper that can be signed by each young patient.

The team at APL in Cochrane wants to let everyone know that because the Children’s Hospital is strictly in-patient blood services at this time and the outpatient lab is closed that the APL in Cochrane is equipped and ready to help patients young and old with laboratory services. Kids, parents, adults, grandparents, and patients of all ages are welcome at the Patient Service Centre (PSC). They will receive the same specialized care as at the Children’s Hospital. As a matter of fact, the staff from Cochrane have spent time receiving their extra training at the hospital.

Marten says, “You don’t have to be a child to get some extra comfort and care, it’s a phobia, so we understand, and we got you.”