After 38 years of service, Northeastern Health System’s Lab Director, Clint Horn, retired. Filling Horn’s vacated seat is Melissa Harp. Harp, a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS), brings a wide variety of skills and assets to the NHS team.
“I have great respect for Clint Horn, who preceded me,” said Harp. “As well as a colleague, Clint is a fellow church member. I’m definitely interested in being part of a team that employed him for 38 years. I am blessed to have him remain as a consultant to help me transition.”
When deciding her career path, Harp chose to follow the family business, as many of her family members have made careers in the medical field.
“I come from a healthcare family. My dad is a retired MLS, and my mom is a retired LPN. My sister Jennifer is an RN at NHS. It is in my genes,” said Harp.
Harp’s 18 years of experience in the laboratory include being the microbiology supervisor with Indian Health Service. She also has a good amount of experience in hematology and is proficient in infectious diseases.
“I have worked in all areas of the lab,” said Harp. “Microbiology and Hematology are my passions.”
Harp earned her bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science from Northeastern State University in 2000, and completed her internship at St. Francis Hospital School of Medical Technology, and is fortunate to have had a large support system along the way.
“My dad, David Hayes, he raised me to be curious about the world and let me look into his microscope as a young child. I take after him with a love of microbiology,” said Harp. “My Tahlequah High School biology teacher, Edna McMillen, played an integral part in my success. I was, and still am, a talker. In high school it got me moved to the front row by the teacher in order to keep me from getting distracted by others. She took an interest in me and forever changed my life. Ever since her class, even throughout college, I sat in the front row to my benefit. Thank you Mrs. McMillen!”
Harp believes it is her calling in life to help her community be happy and healthy via science and medicine.
“I also have a can do attitude. The word “can’t” is not allowed in my house,” said Harp. “Henry Ford said, ‘Faith without action is delusion. Faith does not wait for miracles but produces them. If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right.’ There is definitely a spiritual side to medicine, and I have seen my fair share of miracles throughout my career.”
Harp intends to bring state-of-the-art molecular testing to NHS in the near future and believes NHS is an ideal place to accomplish her goals.
“All of our employees have a great reason to come to work. We know our ‘why,’” said Harp, “meaning that when you come to NHS, the staff are very compassionate about you and your family. We are dedicated professionals and love our chosen careers. It really makes a difference as a patient to be surrounded by happy, helpful people. My ‘why’ is that I have a heart for our community and a passion for science. I am committed to getting our providers the best and most reliable test results.”
Harp and her husband, Ryan, have been married for seven years and have a six-year-old son named Riley. She is involved in charity work such as Hospice of the Cherokee and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
“I enjoy spending time with my church family and I love being a soccer mom. I am an avid reader and like to keep up with the latest scientific discoveries and technologies,” said Harp. “I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to serve the NHS community.”