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CRH Lab Gets High Rating During Inspection
|CALAIS--The federal government recently inspected Calais Regional Hospital’s clinical laboratory and gave it a positive review with no deficiencies identified during the lab’s recertification survey.|
That is good news for a laboratory staff that has set high standards for the facility.
The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted the survey. “They are the one group that every single lab in the United States must get a certificate of some type to operate from,” said Peter Martin, the lab’s new director.
Every two years, clinical labs across the country come up for review and for a lot of facilities; the inspector often makes recommendations on ways to improve or to fix a problem. But not this time. This time the inspector gave the CRH lab its best rating yet.
Megan LaPlant, CRH Medical Technologist, carefully prepares a specimen for testing
Martin praised the laboratory staff for the positive results. “The lab was extremely successful and came up with no negative findings through this inspection and that is not all that common,” he said. “It is the inspector’s job to find something wrong.”
Billie-Jo Leighton, a medical technologist, was the interim lab director at the time of the inspection, also praised the staff. “We were prepared in the sense that we kept everything within the lab updated and ready for review,” she said.
The clinical lab operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by 13 medical professionals that include medical laboratory technologists, technicians and phlebotomists. The facility uses the latest in modern technology to help with emergency, surgery, inpatient and outpatient monitoring.
If a medical provider orders a lab test, the staff stands ready to comply.
Martin said that the lab provides up to 80 percent of all information the physician needs to make a proper diagnoses. “We do the testing on blood and body fluids,” he said.
He noted that health care in this country operates on a team concept. “The doc is the quarterback and everybody else has its own niche role. And everybody in the laboratory here has the role of providing information to nursing and medical staff to help care for the patient,” he said.
The first thing you see when you enter the lab are individual cubicles where blood can be drawn from outpatients. Curtains are drawn for privacy. Step past the cubicles and into the work area where there are bright lights and stainless steel tables and a loud hum as the numerous machines run through the various tests.
Staff, in lab coats and gloves, are processing specimens; others are peering through high-powered microscopes, just one more piece of equipment that allows the staff to gather even more information to help in the diagnoses. Every day is a busy day in the lab.
Over the years, the hospital has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in state-of-the-art equipment that includes a chemistry analyzer that scrutinizes just about everything. “It analyzes everything from blood glucose, to cholesterol, to how your liver and pancreas are working. How your muscles are working and how well your heart is doing,” Martin said. The lab runs upwards of 40 tests or more on average on the machine. “That is our work horse,” he said of the analyzer.
Megan LaPlant, a medical technologist, was near the machine carefully drawing blood from a tube to run a hemoglobin A1C, a test for diabetes. She put the specimen on the analyzer and then stepped to the nearby computer to input information. The machine hummed as it analyzed the blood. She would have the results in a short time.
Martin said the lab does send some tests to a reference lab “Some of the tests we don’t do that often. So sending it to them increases the volume they can do and they can do it for less money then we can do it. So we are helping to control health-care costs by making decisions on where we can get the best service,” he said.
Most people never get a glimpse inside the lab because the door offers a stern warning, “Authorized Personnel Only.” But at the end of April during National Laboratory Week, Martin said that the lab opened its doors to all hospital staff. “For that one week we let people come in behind the closed doors and we get out from behind those doors and interact with the rest of the hospital staff,” Martin said.