Mark Pflug

Tell us about yourself

I am Mark Pflug, MS, RPPT, CHMM, CLSO, CMLSO. I am the system-wide Radiation Safety Officer, MR Safety Officer, Environmental Safety Manager, and Deputy Laser Safety Officer for Cone Health (Greensboro, NC).

My career in safety and radiological health started after graduating high school when I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and its Naval Nuclear Power Program. After serving 10 years in the submarine force, I began my civilian career working for hospital- and university-based programs. My previous employers include University of Utah, Purdue University, Yale University, and Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. I graduated with my Master’s Degree from Purdue University in Health Physics.

I am happily married to my beautiful wife Heather. Our family consists of three awesomeand talented children, two dogs, and one very scared cat.

How did you become LSO?

While at Purdue University, I taught laser safety, as well as radiation safety, to our lab users and students. At Northwestern Medicine, I was the LSO for our downtown hospital (Northwestern Memorial Hospital), Prentice Women’s Hospital, Lake Forest Hospital, and Grayslake facilities. I became certified as a CMLSO at Northwestern and organized the first laser safety committee for the hospital system. Working in health physics, lasers, and laser safety was a natural fit, as the worlds on ionizing and non-ionizing radiation collide.

Do you like being a CLSO and CMLSO?

There is great personal satisfaction knowing we have a cohesive safety program. I believe, as a team, we make a difference in our healthcare community. I must give high marks to our Cone Health Laser Safety Officer, Chris Dissinger. While I play a supportive role as the Deputy Laser Safety Officer, Chris is absolutely fantastic in his administration of our laser safety program. He is committed to having the best program possible and holds everyone to a higher standard. Together, we are a “(laser) tag-team” of safety.

I am happy to report, that at Cone Health, Laser Safety is taken very seriously with uncompromising backing and support. From our terrific nursing staff to our Medical Affairs Vice-president, Dr. Bill Bowman, MD, safety for medical-use lasers is of paramount importance. Authorized users must go through a rigorous credentialing program. Approvals of machines go through a stringent course of departmental sign-offs. I am very fortunate to have an organization that places patient and staff safety as a top priority. True actions and not mere motions are the hallmarks of a viable program. Through Chris Dissinger’s valiant efforts, we have created a strong laser safety culture.

Has becoming certified helped you in your career?

Certification in both CLSO and CMLSO have been instrumental in my role as the Radiation Safety Officer. With new machines and new emerging technologies, the world of laser safety is ever changing. Maintaining certification means continual education and instruction. Through organizations like BLS, one has the opportunity to learn new information and keep current with standards, rules, definitions, and regulatory compliance. Taking advantage of the resources of certification, I have been able to build a firm foundation of knowledge, which has, in turn, provided me a greater sense of confidence in implementing safety programs throughout of system.

Chris Dissinger

Tell us about yourself

I am Chris Dissinger, CBET, CMLSO. I started as a Biomedical Technician in the US Army back in 1980. I received my AAS Biomedical degree from Regis University (formerly Regis College) in 1986, and became a Certified Biomedical Technician (CBET) in 1994.

I moved into a manager role in 2003 overseeing seven technicians. Now I have a dual role of being a technical analyst (2008) for the biomedical department and the Laser Safety Officer (2010) for Cone Health in Greensboro, North Carolina. Our health system comprises of six hospitals, four surgery centers, an outlying emergency department, hundreds of clinics, in a five county area.

I enjoy biking, hiking, and being outdoors with my dog. My passion is learning Spanish, and my goal is to retire and live “la vida” in Mexico.

How did you become LSO?

In 2010, I was asked if I wanted to assume the role of Laser Safety Officer for the health system. Having no experience with lasers, I was reluctant to take on this role but accepted it as a challenge and a way to develop professionally.

Do you like being a CMLSO?

I really enjoy it, because we have a great team here at Cone Health. We have had some major challenges, but also some major improvements in the program. We currently oversee 45 lasers in 17 sites. I have been blessed with an incredible support team. Mark Pflug is the Deputy Laser Safety Officer. He is certified as a CLSO and CMLSO, and is our Radiation Safety Officer, Magnetic Resonance Safety Officer, and Environmental Safety Officer for the health system. He is a resource with a wealth of experience and information. Jennifer Fencle, Clinical Support Nurse, has been instrumental in developing the continuing education program for laser operators and a resource for me for clinical questions. I have a knowledgeable and committed laser safety committee, which is comprised of laser safety site contacts (LSSCs) from each site plus representatives from non-clinical areas. Medical Staff services has been very supportive with the physician laser privileging. The executive leadership for Operative Services have been very supportive in continuing laser safety education. We just had LIA (Leslie Pollard) give a two-day “hands on” laser safety class for laser personnel in the operating rooms system wide. I cannot leave out or forget my director, Trey Everette, who has supported me with continuing education and helping me navigate the political arena. Laser Safety is a team effort, and truly does not reside on one person.

Has becoming certified helped you in your career?

When I was handed the baton, I truly felt unprepared to take on this role. I didn’t know ANSI standards or how to run a laser safety program. Determined to be able to “talk the talk” and develop a successful program, I immersed myself in ANSI standards and took the MLSO course taught by LIA instructor Vangie Dennis. It has helped me incredibly to meet the day-to-day challenges that are presented and has given me the confidence to know I am on the right track. I have always been a true believer in certification, because it helps you become “well rounded” and educated on all aspects of your field. The fact that you have to have continuing education to maintain your certification, keeps you sharp and up to date on the latest changes to the field. It also gives you credibility when talking with other professionals.