The St. Aloisius Medical Center in Harvey completed its new laboratory in early November, with employees beginning work in the new location mid-November. The new laboratory offers many advantages over the center's previous lab.
"It's not as crowded. It's not as noisy. The main body of the lab was increased by 50 square feet, our current office space is four times the size of our old area, and the microbiology area, which was done on a very small counter in the old lab, now has its own additional room," said Marcia Dockter, clinical laboratory scientist and laboratory supervisor for St. Aloisius Medical Center.
Planning for the new lab has been about a two-year process, Dockter said. Originally, plans were to remodel the old lab space and expand into the X-ray department, but because of asbestos in the area, the expansion would have been cost prohibitive. During the summer months of 2006, Dockter explained, the X-ray department had moved into a completely new addition area.
St. Aloisius employees Joan Frey and Petrina Svoboda work in the new hospital lab on Dec. 11. Pictured at front is the lab’s hematology analyzer.
The area that the new lab is now located in was the center's former clinic area. Three new instruments were also purchased for the lab last January, February and March.
The new lab has modular cabinets throughout, Dockter added, which are on rails and can be reconfigured as the lab's needs change.
"Our instrumentation is replaced about every 5 to 7 years, and when you replace that, you need to be able to be flexible," Dockter said.
The lab's separate microbiology room is another component that will help the lab run more efficiently.
"Ideally, most labs have a separate, closed door area (for microbiology), so you're containing the organisms that you're growing, and avoiding contamination from routine lab services also. A separate room is better for the techniques that we need to do," Dockter said.
The new lab has a separate phlebotomy room as well, where blood samples are collected from patients.
"It's safer for the patients, and it's safer for us. Before, it was in a small area of our old lab," Dockter said.
The new laboratory helps make services more efficient and improves patient care.
"We are going to be able to keep in tune with the medical practices and the times, providing more up-to-date services. We'll also be able to provide for outpatient services, for patients who don't necessarily see physicians here but can have their laboratory tests done here without all the driving, and we forward those results to their physicians," Dockter said.