Campus News

Health Center’s clinical lab manager makes big decisions on a small scale

As the clinical laboratory manager at the University Health Center

Ruth Ann Tesanovich has a big job, even though the specimens she examines in her laboratory are small enough to require a microscope.

As the clinical laboratory manager at the University Health Center, her department provides clinicians with test results they use to make decisions.

According to Tesanovich, doctors base 80 percent of medical decisions on diagnostic test results. As the person who oversees the diagnostic laboratory, she is responsible for laboratory professionals who provide that information to UGA physicians.

She has worked at the health center for 23 years: 11 years as a clinical laboratory scientist and 12 years as the laboratory manager. According to Tesanovich, her days “are never typical; every day is different.”

Some days she dons a biomedical engineer’s cap and works on troubleshooting laboratory analyzers in need of repair. Other days, she works as a crisis manager solving computer problems, answering clinical staff questions or helping her staff when they are especially busy. She also ensures that the health center laboratory meets state and federal regulations and complies with accreditation standards.

Above all, her priority is to keep the laboratory running smoothly and with great accuracy.

“Diagnostic testing provides answers to determine what disease a person has and also is part of health promotion and disease prevention,” she said.

Her favorite part of being laboratory manager is coming across the atypical.

“I always like the unusual. In the laboratory, we get to be Sherlock Holmes regarding those instances when we decipher the origin of a mysterious parasite,” she said. This sense of excitement brought forth by discovery applies to this scientist not only in the lab, but also away from it.

Tesanovich has a great sense of adventure. She and her husband, Drago, use their vacation time to travel. They often camp, hike and backpack in many parks out West, such as Glacier National Park in Montana.

Before moving to Athens, Tesanovich and her husband lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In the early 1980s, they moved to Athens after visiting her sister’s family and falling in love with the warm weather and Southern hospitality.

In her free time, she enjoys manual labor because she finds it relaxing. She and her husband, working by themselves in their spare time, built their Madison County home in about three years, she said.

“We’re continually maintaining our home,” she said. “We have 45 acres, and I like to say I live in my own park. We like to work on our land.”

She is involved in the community in political advocacy and lives by the motto “think globally, act locally.”

“I decided that during the 2004 presidential election, my mission would be to encourage young people to vote,” she said.

As a result, she became involved with the Clarke County Democrats in the “Get Out the Vote” program, and organized her own voter registration drives.

Overall, she finds her job fulfilling and stimulating. An advocate for her profession, she feels fortunate to be able to work at UGA in the health center laboratory.

“Our mission at University Health Center is to advance the health of students so they can stay in school, be healthy and learn. (We work) to provide the best quality services with compassion for our students.”