Mike Watson, TriMedx at Sacred Heart Health Systems in Pensacola

The Florida Biomedical Society (FBS) named Mike Watson the 2016 BMET of the Year. Watson is an imaging team lead with TriMedx, working at Sacred Heart Health Systems in Pensacola.

When an imaging service professional is recognized statewide for his achievements and contributions, it’s a big deal. There are many deserving imaging service engineers in any particular state and selecting the best one is always a tough decision – especially when also considering all of Florida’s HTM professionals for the same award.

Watson has been at Sacred Heart since 1997, but has been in the profession for 39 years. He is the imaging team lead for all of Sacred Heart Health Systems, responsible for three hospitals and several clinics.

“I have been part of many changes in the industry, including the migration from hard copy film to digital imaging, analog to digital systems, and electronic storage of images,” Watson says.

Watson says that he didn’t find his career, it found him shortly after he earned an associate degree in applied science in electronic technology at United Electronics Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas. “After completing my degree in electronics, the college had several companies offering jobs for new technicians. I took a position with a local X-ray dealer as an entry-level tech installing, deinstalling and refurbishing used equipment. After several years I started field service work,” he says.

He joined Sacred Heart to start an in-house imaging support program. The program he helped create continues to this day under the management of TriMedx.

“I currently serve as imaging team lead for all of Sacred Heart Health Systems. Regular responsibilities include service and maintenance of general X-ray, mammo, CVL labs, and CT systems, as well as back up for all other imaging modalities,” Watson says. “Our imaging team also has the opportunity to mentor biomed students from Pensacola State College on a regular basis.”

Mike Watson was named the 2016 BMET of the year by the Florida Biomedical Society.

Watson’s continuing education has included classes at Pensacola Junior College in digital electronics fundamentals, microprocessor concepts and introductions to UNIX. He also has learned directly from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

“I have attended OEM training from Kodak, Konica, Philips Medical, GE Medical, Siemens Medical, Varian Medical and other independent manufacturers,” he says.

His education and years of experience were especially helpful when a natural disaster struck. Watson says one of the biggest challenges he has faced as an imaging professional was in 2004. Pensacola was the hardest hit area when Hurricane Ivan made landfall in September of that year.

“Biggest challenge was probably keeping the departments functioning after Hurricane Ivan. We were pretty much doing damage control with Facilities during the storm. Then, after the storm passed, the hospital was on emergency power so only equipment that was supplied was operational,” Watson says.

“To make matters worse, we had no AC, so even though the equipment was operational, we had to move portable coolers and fans to keep things going. Also the network was down, which took down the PACS for the radiologists,” he adds.

Away from Work

Watson had the opportunity to visit Serbia through the TriMedx Foundation, which was created in 2004 to “address the international need for medical equipment repair and support,” according to the organization’s website. The Indianapolis-based organization works in “partnership with medical mission organizations.”

Watson’s experience is unique because of how the trip came about and because the group was the guest of royalty.

“Greg Ranger, president of TriMedx, had met Princess Katherine during a conference here in the states. She requested a visit to Serbia so we could evaluate the state of their health care equipment as they were rebuilding after the Soviet occupation,” Watson says.

“We had a driver and translator supplied by the palace and visited multiple health care facilities. At first, we were impressed with the quality of the equipment we were seeing. The translator reported back to Prince Alexander and Princess Katherine after the first day, and the next thing we knew, we were at the palace getting lectured on how the country had been devastated,” Watson remembers. “That’s when we realized the Serbian people we were meeting were trying to impress us. After that we started explaining why we were there and then started to see the real needs.”

“Biggest challenge was probably keeping the departments functioning after Hurricane Ivan. We were pretty much doing damage control with Facilities during the storm.”

As pastimes to relax, Watson has a green thumb.

“I enjoy yard work and plant a vegetable garden each year,” he says. “I was busy with the kids for years doing sports and club activities. Now that they are grown, I really haven’t gotten into anything new. I keep telling myself it’s time to start fishing again.”

In the past, he has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Make a Difference Day and Helping Hands. He has been a member of the Gulf Coast Biomedical Society for 15 years.

He has been married to his wife, Betty, for 32 years. They have a son, Scott, and daughter, Jessica.

Watson remains humble about his work as an imaging service professional. The FBS award has not changed his approach to solid teamwork with respect for his peers and everyone he works with at Sacred Heart Health Systems.

“I was honored to just be nominated; then to win was over the top. A very special honor for sure,” Watson says. ICE