By K. Richard Douglas
In the state of West Virginia, residents can get their health care needs and emergency hospital visits attended to by the West Virginia University Health System. WVU Medicine includes its flagship hospital, J.W. Ruby Memorial, and nine other hospitals.
J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital was named in honor of the late J.W. Ruby. Ruby’s late wife, Hazel Ruby McQuain, donated $8 million toward the construction of the hospital.
Ruby started life as a farm boy in the early 1920s and worked his way up in the plating department of a company in Ohio. After relocating to Morgantown, West Virginia, he was put in charge of the Sterling Faucet plant. By the end of the war, he owned it. He later branched out into several business ventures. It was this success that later allowed his wife to make the sizable donation for the new hospital.
Other hospitals in the system include Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg; Braxton County Memorial Hospital in Gassaway; Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg; Jefferson Medical Center in Ranson; Potomac Valley Hospital in Keyser; Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale; St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon; Summersville Regional Medical Center in Summersville and United Hospital Center in Bridgeport.
William Lankford, CBET, is a biomedical and imaging specialist in the healthcare technology management department at WVU Medicine. However, he had his sights set on a different kind of imaging in the beginning.
“After high school, I went to art school for a year; I enjoyed photography but realized I didn’t want to do it as a job. After that I worked as a machinist for a couple years and decided I needed something more. I visited my local high school guidance counselor and he told me of a new associate degree program at Penn State that dealt with taking care of medical equipment. The next year, I started at Penn State and graduated with degrees in biomedical equipment technology and electrical engineering technology,” Lankford says.
He says that in his second year of college, he was working part-time at a local community hospital where he also did his internship.
“I was hired full time right after graduation. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by West Virginia University to see if I would be interested in working there to help start a new department that was being created to support a new hospital, Ruby Memorial, which was in the planning stage of being built,” Lankford says.
Lankford says that after the hospital was completed, he worked there for a couple of years as a biomed tech 2.
“I was offered a job as a field engineer for a laboratory instrumentation company. I enjoyed working for the laboratory company, but I was starting a family and the travel was just too difficult. A position opened back at West Virginia University hospitals and I have been here ever since. When I was hired, I returned as a biomed tech 3,” he says.
“About four years ago, I was offered a position in the radiology department as a senior tech working on imaging equipment. That position was recently absorbed back into the healthcare technology management department where I presently work as a biomedical specialist,” Lankford adds.
The position in the radiology department came about after radiology approached the biomedical engineering director looking for assistance in supporting their one-man department.
“I volunteered for the position, which started at 1/2 FTE with the other half supporting my assigned departments in biomed. After a couple years of this, the radiology department offered me an opportunity to join them full time,” Lankford says.
Training has been an ongoing commitment for Lankford.
“Since starting my career, I have attended 46 training schools on a variety of equipment from patient monitoring through multiple imaging devices,” Lankford adds.
Knowing Your Inventory
When Lankford started in radiology, the database was little more than a handwritten notebook. Because of his efforts, it now includes a complete inventory of over 80 X-ray devices, including extensive service histories in the CMMS.
“When I started in radiology four years ago, there wasn’t a complete inventory of imaging equipment, and what little information there was; it wasn’t in a database,” he says.
“I spent a lot of time adding devices into the biomed CMMS database. I added equipment and contacted vendors to inquire about service performed in the past. I data-mined their service reports and added that information to the CMMS database so we had an accurate service history for most devices. This was very helpful during our last Joint Commission review,” Landford adds.
Away from the workplace, Lankford enjoys two-wheeled travel and creating pottery.
“I have many outside interests, including traveling on our Harley Road King with my wife, flatwater kayaking, multiple home improvement projects and supporting the local sports teams. My main hobby, and potentially my retirement job, is wheel throwing pottery,” he says.
His family is very accomplished and he is justifiably proud.
“My wife of 34 years, Colleen; she is the director of Christian Help, in Morgantown. My daughter Jessica graduated with three engineering degrees and is an instructor with the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Training Command in Charleston, South Carolina. My son Kris has a master’s degree in safety management engineering and is a safety manager with Black and Veatch telecom division in Columbus, Ohio,” Lankford says.
Lankford says that he is just an average guy who made a lucky career choice.
“Working at WVU Medicine has been great. Working in the imaging field has been challenging and enjoyable; I would encourage anyone to follow in my footsteps,” he says.
For now, Lankford will make certain that the imaging devices at WVU Medicine work well; in the future, it may be a pottery wheel that needs attention.