One colleague’s passion for sterile processing is professional, personal

May 11, 2023  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

About a 4-minute read

Key takeaways:

  • A sterile supply manager’s passion for sterile processing and HRO principles stems from a personal negative harm event, that of his mother
  • The Central Sterile Processing Department uses a number of checks and balances to ensure safety for patients and staff
  • CSPD’s high-reliable operations allows for a safer, more positive patient experience, while providing greater access

The role of the Central Sterile Processing Department is essential to a safe, high reliable and efficient medical system. At Michigan Medicine, CSPD provides several services to aid its operating rooms, providers, technicians to keep patients and fellow colleagues safe.

Namely, CSPD’s services in the ambulatory setting are wide ranging, from the actual cleaning and distribution of medical supplies to training, education and certification of devices. Moreover, each area has its own CSPD, which can solve challenges unique to different teams.

Propelling a passion for processing

Jonathan Manuel, CRCST, CER, CHL, CIS, a sterile supply manager for ambulatory care facilities, is one of many leaders who are key to practicing HRO principles with others. And why he got into the profession is greatly personal.

The Manuel family is deeply entrenched at Michigan Medicine. Jonathan’s older brother Michael Manuel works as an MRI tech, while his younger sister Katheryn Key is a sonographer. Their stepfather Rick Brandt worked for facilities as an HVAC repairman, retiring in 2019.

Manuel’s mother, Cheryl Manuel, R.N., was a pediatric nurse in Mott’s PACU and later Kellogg Eye Center for over 25 years but was later a patient. While Jonathan Manuel was in middle school, Cheryl needed an operation and suffered from a surgical site infection (SSI).

“I will never forget the struggles my mother went through after having multiple surgeries to address issues related to her infection,” Manuel said. “Seeing first-hand how someone’s quality of life can suffer from just one mistake has fueled my passion for sterile processing, and my desire to provide the best level of care for our patients.”

Years later, Manuel now works to safeguard against that same negative patient outcome. Distilled to its simplest goal, sterile processing exists to guarantee the safest environment possible.

“In sterile processing, we rely on a series of checks and balances throughout our entire process,” Manuel said. “We depend on each other to speak up when something is not right. We don’t place blame, but rather try to ensure things are right for our partners in the operating room as well as our patients.”

Sterile processing and BASE

Safety and quality is one of the four pillars of the Building our BASE initiative, established by David Miller, M.D., M.P.H., president of U-M Health. CSPD is colloquially known as “the heart of the hospital,” supporting operating rooms and clinics as a crucial resource that sometimes goes unseen. CSPD teams gather decontaminated equipment, sterilize, assemble and package them safely for the next patient.

“I am so thankful that our team members embrace the responsibility and need to speak up for safety,” Miller said. “Our Safety goal in our BASE priorities is to establish and maintain the checks and balances that support our commitment to achieving the highest standard of safety, quality and experience for our patients.”

CSPD has been utilizing manufacturer’s Instructions for Use (IFU) for each instrument and device. By using a one-stop repository,, processors can trust their work and be up to date on the latest safety protocols. Sometimes, IFUs change or printed labels wear over time, but by using a continually updated digital resource, U-M Health stays in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions and regulatory requirements.

Sterile processing plays a part in access and experience, too. In ambulatory care settings, CSPD is responsible for reprocessing flexible endoscopes, ultrasound transducers and other devices, each with their own challenges. Owning, operating and training on different devices leads to a certain expertise among staff that gives access to Michigan Medicine’s service providers to see a wider array of patients in a more efficient manner.

As for patent experience, having clean instruments ready at the start of a procedure is critical to preventing delays in the OR, easing potential anxiety of a waiting patient. CSPD works behind the scenes turning over surgical sets needed for multiple cases in a day, which requires open communication between team members and OR staff to identify supply needs.

Furthermore, CSPD’s most vital function is to prevent SSIs, like the one that happened to Cheryl. Preventing follow-up appointments, procedures and other negative outcomes are additional benefits.

“I truly feel so fortunate to work for an organization where we are not only encouraged to speak up for safety,” Manuel said. “But our leadership actually listens and thanks us when we share our concerns.”


Cheryl Manuel passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2018. The friends she made at Michigan Medicine fought with her to the end and made sure she received the best possible care at the hospital and at home.

“I have always been in awe at the amount of care and compassion exhibited by nurses on a daily basis,” said Jonathan Manuel. “Both in their professional lives and in their personal lives.”