Kontio Honored by MGH
Sandra Kontio (Surgical Technology) received a double surprise recently when she was informed that Marquette General Hospital named both a classroom and new scholarship fund in her honor. She served 24 years as a surgical technologist in the hospital’s operating room before becoming the full-time director of Northern’s program in 1997.
“I was blown away when Dr. [Craig] Coccia made the announcement at our graduation ceremony – it was the last thing I expected,” she said. “The scholarships will support continuing education. That’s something I really believe in. It’s very important for professionals to stay current because the technology changes so fast.”
The Sandra Kontio Surgical Technology Training Center, as the classroom is now called, was a base for students during their clinical rotations.
“We used to do most everything at MGH under the certificate program,” Kontio said. “All of the clinical practicum was done in the operating room, so we had to schedule some sessions at night and two on Saturday to work around the surgery schedule. We don’t have to do that anymore and we don’t use the classroom as much because we have a beautiful new lab in West Science (where she is pictured). It’s wonderful because students can practice the skills here before they actually scrub in at MGH. I was thrilled to get the lab two years ago and it was expanded this past summer.”
Surgical technologists’ responsibilities include preparing surgical instruments before procedures, creating and maintaining a “sterile field,” passing instruments and supplies to the surgeon as needed and helping to ensure patient safety.
“MGH is a productive surgical site because of its role as a regional hospital, so their need for surgical technologists is critical,” said Lucille Contois (Clinical Laboratory Sciences). “Many of their surgical technologists are NMU grads. That fact, combined with the honors they’ve given Sandra, speaks volumes about their regard for her commitment to the program.”
According to the Association of Surgical Technologists, one-year certificates might limit career options because many employers now prefer to hire individuals who’ve earned a two-year associate degree. NMU has transitioned to the latter, which Contois said could double the program’s enrollment to 32.