'I thank EIRMC for the life it gave me.' Longest tenured hospital employee retires at 76 - East Idaho News

‘I thank EIRMC for the life it gave me.’ Longest tenured hospital employee retires at 76

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IDAHO FALLS — A 76-year-old Idaho Falls woman recently retired from Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center bringing her 55-year career to a close.

Keila Poulsen spent about 23 years of her career as the hematology and histology supervisor at EIRMC — although in her last year she was only the hematology supervisor — and she retired June 14. She was the longest tenured employee at EIRMC, as well as in the HCA Healthcare Mountain Division of 11 hospitals, according to EIRMC.

“That’s not necessarily a goal I shot for,” Poulsen said about being the longest tenured EIRMC employee. “I just wanted to keep doing the thing I love doing at the place I love doing it with the people I love being with. And then, 55 years flew by.”

Poulsen was 10 years old when her mom bought her a microscope and her brother a chemistry set. Her mom turned one of their dad’s white shirts into a lab coat and that’s when Poulsen fell in love “with that concept.”

She didn’t know there was a job similar to what interested her as a child until she was a sophomore in high school.

“I was in the counselors office and found a trifold that had a lady on the front in a lab coat and a microscope and it said ‘Med Tech,'” Poulsen recalls. “That’s when I first knew there was such a thing as an occupation for what I fell in love with.”

Poulsen started her medical career as a lab assistant in June 1969 at the Idaho Falls LDS Hospital, which later became known as Riverview Hospital. Poulsen’s employment was immediately transferred over to EIRMC — and her tenure remained — when it opened its doors in 1986.

Over the years while Poulsen served as the hematology supervisor at EIRMC, she was responsible to making sure the instrumentation was current, that she understood the latest instrumentation and was able to teach it to her staff.

One of her primary loves was blood cells and being able to identify those blood cells and the different disease states associated with it.

“It’s like a puzzle. You see the cell. You see that it’s abnormal, and then you start working through trying to decide what the message is from that cell so you can get that message to the doctor so he knows what to do for the patient,” Poulsen explained.

Falling in love with hematology is what Poulsen said provided her with opportunities to offer workshops across the nation, be the co-author and contributor of several books and teach at Brigham Young University for 40 years.

She would take her two week vacation and go teach at the campus.

“As I evolved through the 55 years, hematology changed constantly, almost daily,” she mentioned. “The knowledge as to what causes the various disease states became clearer and anytime you understand something more, then it becomes more fun and you want to teach people so maybe they can have as much fun. That’s what I enjoyed with my staff is we all loved to learn.”

Although Poulsen is going to miss those she worked with, she takes with her countless memories and lessons learned.

She learned that nobody can affect you without your permission, as well as the importance of being humble, kind, striving to broaden your horizons, learn, grow and teach.

“I thank EIRMC for the life it gave me,” Poulsen said. “It was such a privilege and wonderful opportunity.”