Our Passion, Your Health

Our Passion | Your Health features stories on the latest happenings at Penn State Health St. Joseph. Check out our blogs, recipes, patient stories, program highlights, and new services that represent our passion...your health.

I am Penn State Health: Osiris Martinez Urquilla

Growing up in El Salvador as the oldest of nine children, Osiris Martinez Urquilla knew education would be her ticket to help her mother and siblings thrive. She came to America by herself and worked hard to become a medical laboratory technician, sending home the money to put all her siblings through technical school.

She extends that heart for helping others to her job as medical laboratory scientist lead at Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center, where she often volunteers for weekend shifts so her co-workers can be at home with their families.

THIS IS THE BEST PART OF WORKING AT PENN STATE HEALTH

When I started clinicals at St. Joseph in 2009, I didn’t really know anybody, and now, all the people I work with are like family. Four years ago, when my grandmother passed away, my co-workers bought me a plane ticket home.

MY PART IN THE BIG PICTURE

Even though we are behind the scenes, we give results to doctors so they can diagnose a condition quicker. Whatever results we give, they will act on – so the result has to be correct and exact – to the well-being or the harm of the patient.

MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB

The hardest thing is when you see a child’s results contain cancer cells. I just thank God that we have a good health system, and we are finding things earlier when there is hope.

COPING DURING COVID

At work, I have been working extra hours/days to prepare COVID specimens for transfer to different laboratories. We deal with all specimens collected at the COVID testing drive-through and also at different nursing homes. I always stay positive, and I know that what we do is helping the community.

On a personal level, I haven’t been able to travel to see my mom or my siblings in more than a year and a half. I haven’t been able to see my fiancée either—so we Facetime for dinner dates a thousand miles away from each other. I am blessed to have a job and that my family is OK.

HOW I SPEND MY FREE TIME

I watch movies, get together with my friends or read.

YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO KNOW

I didn’t know any English when I came to the U.S., and I learned it mostly by watching “Seinfeld.”

WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT OSIRIS

“Osi is an individual who always goes above and beyond for our patients, for our team and for our mission.”

~ Linda Gallagher, laboratory director

THIS IS WHY I’M PROUD TO WORK HERE

Especially since St. Joseph became part of Penn State Health, I see so many opportunities to do more. My lab director has given me so many opportunities for leadership and to better myself, which makes me feel like I can really make a difference.

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