By Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer – What started out as an interest in the medical field has become a career spanning 30 years – and counting – of active duty and civil service for Matt Hodgson.
Hodgson, from Binghamton, New York and 1987 graduate from Susquehanna Valley High School, is the staff MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technologist at Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) and recently announced as NHB Employee of the Month for June, 2021.
“Just honored that folks thought of me,” said Hodgson, acknowledging that there is some importance attached to not just being nominated but also being selected from a command of approximately 1,300 staff members.
“It’s significant because it show’s we’re appreciated by the patients in our care,” Hodgson said, adding that being recognized, “reflects on everyone in our department. Every day, all our staff, both active duty and civilians work very hard. For me, it’s very significant because it’s also professional recognition, which is as valuable to me as any award one can get. “
Hodgson was highlighted for ‘demonstrating superior performance in the delivery of stellar customer service to patients,’ a testament to his interpersonal skills and professional aptitude.
“Just treat folks like they’re individuals and show patience, honesty and compassion,” stated Hodgson.
His Navy Medicine career begin when he enlisted in 1988 at age 18 and attended Hospital Corps School, Great Lakes, Illinois, serving as a hospital corpsman for 20 years.
“I wanted at the very least to get some experience in the medical field. The Hospital Corps was a great fit,” related Hodgson.
Navy Medicine has taken him from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina across the Pacific to Japan.
He has held such positions and duty as general duty corpsman, Fleet Marine Force corpsman providing support to the Marine Corps, advanced radiologic technologist, leading petty officer, and MRI clinical education specialist. After working for a civilian company for a few years following his Navy active duty career, he returned back to the Department of Defense and has been at Naval Hospital Bremerton for last 10 years.
Assigned to a Navy Medicine platform, Hodgson’s position is an integral part of the crucial clinical support provided from the Radiology Department to providers in helping them diagnose patient’s injury and/or disease.
The MRI itself is a sizable computerized machine that uses magnets, radio waves and a computer to deliver detailed images of the inside of a patient’s body. Along with helping with diagnoses, the MRI can monitor how a patient is doing with a particular treatment, and is especially useful looking at the nervous system and soft tissue. For example, an MRI of the brain can help diagnose brain injury or a stroke. An MRI of the heart and blood vessels can look for heart disease and an MRI of the bones and joints can detect damage in bones, cancer, and/or bone infection(s).
“Basically, I feel like medical imaging, MRI specifically, are the doctor’s eyes. They are partially blind without us - not to degrade their clinical abilities - but we provide a noninvasive way to diagnose patients to hopefully prevent surgeries or allow doctors to accurately plan those surgeries to give the patient the best outcome,” explained Hodgson.
With the Navy surgeon general priority on operational readiness and NHB’s core mission of ensuring a medically ready force by a ready medical force, Hodgson is helping contribute towards that requirement.
“It’s especially important to be able to scan active duty members quickly for operational commitments and, now, with a second carrier transferring here, we will be able to take some of the stress off an already overtaxed local civilian hospital,” stressed Hodgson.
Hodgson affirms his MRI clinic is invaluable in treatment.
“MRI utilizes radio frequencies and a very strong magnet to image different tissues of the body, more so than any other modality. We can diagnose everything from ligament tears to brain tumors and provide valuable information as to the characteristics of some pathologies,” confirmed Hodgson.
The best part about his on-going career?
“Being able to work with great people from all over the world,” stated Hodgson.
When asked to sum up his experience with Navy Medicine in one sentence, Hodgson replied, “I love it so much I came back after working in the private sector for three years.”