JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
In the late 1970’s, during the Jimmy Carter presidency, Leah Hawes began her career as a civil service employee.
Over 40 years later, she is now the Point of Care Testing manager for the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.
Hawes’ civil service career began working at the Air Force’s drug testing lab at Brooks Air Force Base.
“We had to go through boxes and boxes of files on soldiers who had been exposed to Agent Orange and I thought, ‘Holey moly! That’s a lot of paperwork,’” she said.
Her 40 years as a government employee doesn’t include her time teaching at the Defense Language Institute on Lackland Air Force Base in 1975 as a contractor. After teaching for a year, she put her degree in Chemistry and Biology to use with another contracting job at the Air Force Drug Test Lab.
“The procedures to extract drugs from urine had just been created at the Air Force Institute of Pathology and we were able to be the first to try them out,” Hawes explained. “At that time, we tested for six different drugs in urine samples.”
In 1991, recently returned to Texas from a brief move to Illinois, she was hired as a medical technologist at Wilford Hall Medical Center. After five years in that position, she made another shift to become the point of care coordinator for waived testing.
“All of the changes I’ve seen during my time here have been for the best, especially in safety and how we protect the caregivers,” Hawes. “Safety is so important in the lab. That applies not only in protecting ourselves and our fellow lab team, but the patients as well.”
Hawes said she is proud of her service, and the patients taken care of by the men and women who have worked with her at 59th MDW throughout her career.
“With all of the good changes we've made here, I know patients are receiving top notch care,” she said. “It's been a very satisfying, rewarding and grateful career as a government civil servant.”
Not ready to retire yet, Hawes plans to work at least one more year at the Air Force's premier healthcare, medical education and research, and readiness wing.
For more information about the 59th MDW, including new 59th Medical Wing Texting Service, visit http://www.59mdw.af.mil/text/.