CHIPLEY, Fla. (WMBB) — All month long we are celebrating the Remarkable Women in the Panhandle that truly make a difference. These women were nominated by News 13 viewers and the finalists were selected by local judges.

Our next Remarkable Women finalist is Dr. Naomie Melvin. She is a Washington County woman who came out of retirement during the pandemic to help save lives.

Dr. Melvin has an extensive resume. She’s been a laboratory professional for more than 40 years. But one of her biggest accomplishments sits at the Northwest Florida Community Hospital in Chipley. The hospital is the home to a high molecular laboratory, the only lab like it within 100 miles in the Panhandle.

The lab allows the hospital to do RTPCR coronavirus tests. These tests give results that are more accurate than the rapid coronavirus tests, with a quick turnaround time.

“In four hours we can identify and give a doctor a diagnosis and save somebody’s life,” said Dr. Melvin.

The hospital’s owners funded the lab to help elderly patients get faster coronavirus test results. This was especially crucial at the start of the pandemic.

“At this point, we can’t get our lab results for two weeks,” said Dr. Melvin. “So our patients can’t stay in the hospital for two weeks — we’re running out of space we don’t know how to treat them.”

That’s when Dr. Melvin got a call to help them start up the molecular department. At the time, she was in semi-retirement.

“I went into this profession to save people’s lives,” she said. “And at a time when there is nobody to do it and you know how to do it — why would you not come and save another human being. That’s as simple as I can put it.”

Dr. Melvin is now overseeing the Medical Laboratory Technicians and mentoring them, as they are the future of the department.

“We’re the key people,” she said. “We actually tell you ‘is this a disease or is this not.’ We save your life.”

Now at a time when lab technicians are so crucial, Dr. Melvin is focusing her attention on getting more people to join the profession here in the Panhandle.

She’s already worked with Dr. Neal Dunn to create scholarships for veterans and high school students to get easier access to the education they need.

“God bless them we pushed and pushed and it got it done,” said Dr. Melvin.

Moving forward, Dr. Melvin said she will be working with lawmakers to continue to fill the need for medical professionals in Northwest Florida.

“No matter what age you are you should be willing to do whatever you can for your community,” she said. “That’s important — I mean you can’t see people dying and not do anything about it — you know?”