CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lynn Ching is an X-ray technician at Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, where she's been working for more than 20 years. Above, Ching posed for a portrait last week in the X-ray lab of the medical center's Honolulu clinic.
Some people get all the breaks
Lynn Ching heads up the X-ray staff at Kaiser Permanente's Honolulu clinic
Lynn Ching says she gets to help people every day and earn a good salary while doing it, so she's quite happy being a radiologic technologist for Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, where she has worked for more than 20 years.
Who: Lynn Ching|
Title: Lead radiologic technologist
Job: Handles administrative, supervisory and X-ray duties at Kaiser Permanente Hawaii's Honolulu clinic
In fact, Ching is the lead radiologic technologist -- or X-ray technician -- at the medical operation's Honolulu clinic, at the corner of South King and Pensacola streets, where she performs X-rays on patients, handles administrative duties and supervises her fellow X-ray technicians at the site.
After so many years on the job, Ching has become somewhat jaded by the range of human bone fractures that she sees every day, so she's always interested when something unusual comes her way. She isn't immune, however, to the suffering of some of her patients, especially the younger ones.
Ching graduated from Roosevelt High School, then attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa for a couple of years before enrolling at Kapiolani Community College to obtain an associate of science degree in radiologic technology.
Ching, 51, is married to Arnold Ching Jr., with whom she has two adult children -- a son and a daughter. She and her husband reside in Kaneohe.
What is your work title?
Lynn Ching: I'm a radiologic technologist.
Q: I was told that you were the lead X-ray technician.
A: That's correct.
Q: So that's just another way of saying it?
A: Yes. It gets a little fancy sometimes.
Q: Where is your work area located?
A: We're at the lobby level at the Honolulu clinic of Kaiser Permanente (at the corner of South King and Pensacola streets).
Q: Did you ever work at the old Kaiser Hospital, down near the Ilikai, before they torn it down?
A: Yeah, I did. I was there for two years or so. It was nice.
Q: Do you miss it?
A: As a matter of fact, sometimes I do. It was near the beach, so that was nice.
Q: What were you doing before you joined Kaiser?
A: I worked at another private X-ray office.
Q: When did you become the lead X-ray technician at Kaiser?
A: I'd say about four years ago now.
Q: What exactly does the lead X-ray technician do?
A: Basically I do the schedules and order supplies.
Q: Do you supervise other X-ray technicians?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: How many of them are there?
A: General X-ray technologists, we have five at this clinic.
Q: How many people work in your department altogether?
A: About 16 of us altogether.
Q: And what kinds of jobs do those include?
A: That includes an ultrasound tech, a bone-density tech, and mammographers.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lynn Ching has seen just about every type of bone fracture as a radiologic technologist, or X-ray technician, at Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. These days she is the lead X-ray technician for the medical center's Honolulu clinic. Above, Ching prepared patient Dominic Ahuna for a knee X-ray.
Do you actually work with the X-ray equipment yourself, or is your position more administrative?
A: I do patients more. I have to do the regular scheduling sometimes, and the ordering of supplies, and that takes a little bit of time, but I'm mostly on the floor, administering X-rays.
Q: Is your X-ray department the same thing as an imaging department?
A: Yes. It's the same thing.
Q: Is an MRI (magnetic resonance image) the same thing as an X-ray?
A: It's a different specialty.
Q: Do you handle MRIs?
A: No, we don't.
Q: What's different about it?
A: It's more complex, and the machine is very large, and we can't accommodate something that large at a clinic. All the specialties are pretty much at the hospital, at Moanalua (on Red Hill).
Q: How many patients does your department deal with each day?
A: That varies. As far as regular X-rays -- that's my section -- I'd say about 40 to 50 a day.
Q: What are most of them getting X-rays for?
A: Nowadays a lot of knees and shoulders and a lot of chest X-rays.
Q: How would you explain each of those situations.
A: Well, normally when school is in session, a lot of those types of injuries come in, and I guess now we're in flu season, so a lot of people are sick. ...
Q: So they come in for chest X-rays?
A: Yes, they do.
Q: What typically happens when a patient comes in for an X-ray? What do you have to do?
A: We have to make sure we have the right patient, ask them certain questions, get their IDs. Then we X-ray them.
Q: Is there a lot of paperwork you have to fill out?
A: Not anymore, actually. We're very much using the computer these days, so it makes life easier.
Q: Is it true that doctors' handwriting is hard to read?
A: Um, ... no comment. (Laughter)
Q: How do you interact with the emergency room?
A: Well, their patients are taken in first, so whenever they're brought over, patients that come in on a walk-in basis have to wait. They (the emergency-room patients) are a first priority.
Q: Do you have to have strong stomach to do that sometimes.
A: With certain exams, you may have to, in certain situations.
Q: I could imagine some people could have pretty busted-up bones or whatever.
Q: Are the usual patients typically in pain when you're dealing with them?
Q: Is that hard?
A: Especially when they're young.
Q: Are there any restrictions on who should get an X-ray? Like age?
A: Well, pregnant women, and that's pretty much it, actually.
Q: Does it ever make you nervous to be around so much X-ray equipment?
A: No not at all. There's precautions you need to take, and as along as you follow them, you'll be fine.
You're not worried about overexposure for yourselves?
A: No. We go out of the room. We wear lead aprons. Distance is your best friend. That's just basic knowledge.
Q: What kind of hours do you keep at the job?
A: Well, we rotate on Saturdays, and we rotate evenings. And we rotate during the days. We take turns.
Q: What kind of education do you need to get into this kind of work?
A: It's a two-year program at KCC (Kapiolani Community College). And that's basically it, as far as being trained in this. You have to be certified.
Q: Who certifies you?
A: You have to take a state of Hawaii test, and there's what we call the American Radiological Society -- it's a national license also.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Finding interesting fractures, things you normally don't see all the time. The normal stuff gets kind of boring after awhile. I mean, it's good for the patient, but it's good to see stuff that's unusual once in a while.
Q: What are some of the worst bone breaks you've seen in your job?
A: It's usually what we call a comminuted fracture, where everything is pretty much broken off and it pokes through the skin. It's a pretty bad fracture, and you don't like to see it. And you feel pretty bad for the patient when you see stuff like that.
Q: What usually causes something like that?
A: Oh, a horrible fall, or something falling on it. It has to be very traumatic for it to do that.
Q: Why did you go into this line of work?
A: The pay is good. And also to help people.