Justin Collins, lead phlebotomist at AACH, won the Annual Values in Action Award—Asante's most prestigious honor. Justin is not only a great leader but also an excellent teacher, passing on his knowledge and skills to others.
Of all the job roles in health care, phlebotomists are often our unsung heroes. They are the ones who must calm the patients afraid of needles (an estimated two-thirds of children and a quarter of America’s adults), and gently distract those who wince at the sight of blood. Phlebotomists must be empathetic, compassionate, competent and efficient.
Justin Collins, lead phlebotomist at Asante Ashland Community Hospital, has all those skills, both innate and developed. His extraordinary manner with both patients and staff earned him the Annual Values in Action Award, Asante’s highest honor.
“When patients come to us with complaints, concerns or find themselves in a vulnerable position, he treats them with dignity and listens to what they have to say,” said Thomas Arnold, Ashland Community Hospital lab supervisor. “He also follows up with them to ensure that their situation is addressed thoroughly and is properly resolved.”
Collins came to Asante in 2016 as a traveling phlebotomist from Texas. He worked first at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, where his met his wife, Lynn Collins. In 2019, after another stint traveling, he returned to Asante for good. At Ashland Community Hospital, he quickly made an impact on the department and his team.
“Justin has taken the time to personally teach each and every new employee both the technical and interpersonal aspects that make him an excellent phlebotomist,” Arnold wrote in his VIA nomination. “And as an excellent leader he models and continuously coaches these good habits. He doesn’t just work within the basic parameters of his responsibilities; he works until the job is done and ensures that it is done well.”
Collins has developed a fan base of sorts among his patients, many of whom ask for him by name.
At the Annual VIA ceremony in November, Steven Hersch, MD, hospital administrator and vice president of Medical Affairs, spoke directly to Collins about one such patient:
Since childhood, this young woman has required frequent lab draws and she’s needle phobic. She became quite ill a while ago and was hospitalized, and you were there every morning for her daily lab draw, providing reassurance and a friendly, kind, compassionate, trusted presence during a very traumatic time. In her words, “He helped me find the courage to fight my fear of my illness.”
After recovery, she came for outpatient labs and she found that the wait time in the lab was several hours long. She learned that there were not enough phlebotomists.
This community need and her experience with you inspired her to learn to be a phlebotomist. See now arises very early, once a week to volunteer with you in the phlebotomy lab.
You demonstrate to her the values of excellence, service, respect, honesty and teamwork. You are truly her favorite phlebotomist. And she thinks that someday she might be able to be somebody else’s favorite phlebotomist.
She’s my daughter. And we are incredibly grateful to you.
Collins was joined at the ceremony by his mother, Linda Coiner, and his aunt, Jennifer Collins.
“You can’t meet Justin and not fall in love with him,” Jennifer said. “He’s just an amazing individual. I’m so proud to be his aunt.”
His mother spent 40 years as an LPN and shared her gratitude that her eldest son chose a career in health care. “I just wanted to say how proud I am of him for winning this prestigious award. I love you, babe.”
In appreciation for his contributions to Asante’s Values, Collins was given a charcuterie box, flowers, badge backer, gift card and personalized crystal award.