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One of the first places a Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center patient visits during their oncology appointment is with a phlebotomist to have blood drawn. These samples are vital for physicians to make critical decisions about the patient’s treatment. Many people can be apprehensive and afraid of both needles and blood. Helping to make the process an easier experience is Guerda Joseph, who has worked as a phlebotomist at the Mass General Cancer Center for five years. Joseph always strives to make patients feel more comfortable. "I usually like distracting them by asking about their day and family to ease their experience,” Joseph says. “I love interacting with them and talking about their cultures and their lives.”.

Guerda Joseph
Mass General's Guerda Joseph

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some patients have been even more skittish about coming in for their blood draws so Joseph and the 10-member phlebotomy team work hard to assure patients that the process remains safe. "We are constantly cleaning between patients, using personal protective equipment and practicing social distancing," she says.

Suzanne Morrison, credentialed trainer with the Mass General eCare Team says of Joseph, "She is capable, reassuring, curious about who you are and shares information about herself. Guerda is professional and is a very special soul."

Joseph floats between the seventh and ninth floor of the Yawkey Building for Outpatient Care. This is where most of the cancer patients meet with their oncologists after they see Joseph.

"I love working with cancer patients,” Joseph says. “I like the interaction and the familiar faces. I find it very rewarding, especially when they start getting better!"