CI Hero: Central Illinois regional laboratory director credited with quadrupling COVID-19 testing

CI Heroes

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– UnityPoint Health’s (UPH) regional director of laboratories has changed the face of COVID-19 testing in Central Illinois. Dana Spears has worked for the hospital for over a decade. She’s this week’s CI Hero.

Testing in a lab provides answers and solutions to questions posed by healthcare workers. Identified as an influencer, Dana Spears with UnityPoint Health is a leader by nature.

“She’s extremely passionate about what she does,” said Jeanette Murray, the vice president of hospital operations. “Extremely passionate about patience. Great working relationship with physicians, also, trying to understand the needs of patients and physicians.”

A doctor who’s worked with Spears during COVID-19 response efforts said she’s helped expand testing statewide.

“She actually brought her knowledge, the skills, got the pathology lab together, the lab techs, and worked with leadership to actually get the instrument to the point that it could be used for testing,” said Dr. Samer Sader, the chief medical officer in the Peoria region for UnityPoint.

Spears, a humble guide within the clinical service group, said making testing readily available was a top priority.

“At the beginning, it was so hard,” said Spears. “Testing was so hard to come by and you know, we had just so many people who wanted tests that couldn’t get them, or we were afraid to open up testing.”

UPH leaders crediting Spears and her team with quadrupling its testing capacity for COVID-19.

“Her number one quality is that she doesn’t see a project and says no,” said Dr. Sader. “She sees a project and says, ‘let me see how I can fix this.”

She just does everything…it’s very much heartfelt with her,” said Murray. “She’s just outstanding.”

Spears also led the healthcare group through the lab integration of UPH Proctor and Pekin.

We’re highlighting heroes in our community who are putting the safety and well-being of our community’s health. If you’d like to nominate someone to be a CI Hero, CLICK HERE.

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