All posts by syuan

Rising ahead of the sun to deliver same-day results for America’s seniors

Routine lab services aren’t typically top of mind when thinking about nursing homes or the care they provide. Yet, hours before dawn, phlebotomists from American Health Associates (AHA) make the trip to nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country to collect specimens from patients who depend on routine diagnostic tests to monitor their health. When it comes to vulnerable populations like nursing or long-term care residents, every minute counts. That’s why AHA prides its phlebotomists and lab technicians as “minutemen.”

“We do try to train our phlebotomists to be the kind of people you want to see by your bedside with a needle at 4 o’clock in the morning,” notes Amelia Waters, Vice President of Strategy and Operations at AHA. “[Phlebotomists] are really very much unsung heroes.”

The ability to listen to and understand patients is something that is innate to the phlebotomists at AHA, whom Amelia describe as the “face of the company.” In addition to the technical skills required to serve this population, Amelia highlights the social skills that AHA phlebotomists leverage to build trust with patients, many of whom are elderly and have pre-existing conditions. “On the elderly, it can be tricky trying to draw blood because they’re older or the veins are smaller, thinner, collapsed,” Amelia explains. “You need to be great with people in order to do this well.”

AHA’s commitment to patient care extends further than the face-to-face interactions during regular specimen collection. Understanding that time and quality is critical for patients, Amelia introduced a new online check-in system for phlebotomists to help streamline the clinical laboratory process and improve the tracking and accuracy of the records of the specimen’s life, such as the time the specimen was dropped off, the facility it came from and the temperature at which it arrived.

The main goal for Amelia’s team is to process and investigate samples in a timely and accurate manner as the results are very time-sensitive. “Things can progress very quickly, so depending on the results, if we draw it in the morning and we turn the results in by the afternoon, the doctor is able to make a decision,” Amelia points out. These needs were especially elevated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, when long-term care facilities were some of the nation’s hot spots for the spread of the disease.

“There’s tons of respiratory viruses out there, all of which are different from COVID, but many of them have very similar sort of symptoms, so being able to tell the difference quickly is important,” says Amelia.

Watch the full interview with Amelia to learn more about the work that happens behind-the-scenes at American Health Associates.

Piecing Together the Puzzle: Lab Professionals Play Critical Role in Delivering Patient-Centered Care

Caring for patients is the family business for Stephanie Peterson, an operational technical specialist for Mayo Clinic Laboratories’ Hepatitis/HIV Molecular Lab. Stephanie’s father was a personal trainer and her mother served on the frontlines as a nurse. From an early age, Stephanie developed a passion for health that only grew when she joined her mother for Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day and saw patient care firsthand.

“Seeing all the different tools that they [health care workers] would use — that made me really curious about the hospital, and then later on, the lab,” recalls Stephanie.

In Mayo’s Hepatitis/HIV Molecular Lab, Stephanie focuses on assessing transplant assays, or helping patients receive the organ transplants they need in a safe and timely manner. “It’s oftentimes people who have been waiting on a list for weeks, months on end, and they have a phone call that they receive,” says Stephanie. “And they have X amount of hours to be able to get that organ transplanted, to be present where it is and get that testing done to make sure that before this organ ever touches that body, all the necessary tests are taken and made to make it to them.”

Throughout a given day, Stephanie helps her team by ensuring that laboratory workflows run smoothly. She provides insights from her previous laboratory experiences and works to identify new, innovative ways to help her fellow technicians at Mayo perform their roles with greater ease. That can include finding ergonomic techniques for lab technicians to physically do their work, or making sure they have the resources they need to get the job done.

Stephanie and her team’s commitment to the job translates to an even greater commitment to patients. “No matter if you’re just test-tube number one or test-tube number 201, we’re going to treat you with the utmost care, making sure that we’re checking all items,” she explains.

Communication is key to bringing it all together to best serve patients, says Stephanie, who emphasized the focus on teamwork in everything the lab does. “Coming to Mayo, I feel I know that each time I’m doing my job, I’m not only helping myself, I’m helping those patients,” she shares.

Watch the video below to learn more about the critical contributions that lab professionals like Stephanie provide each and every day.

In this fast-paced lab, innovation and improvement is a constant

This Laboratory Professionals Week, we honor the innovators, collaborators and colleagues who have gone above and beyond behind the scenes to meet patient need. Today, ACLA is featuring Kortney Martin from Aegis Sciences Corporation, who demonstrated tremendous commitment and dedication implementing a new technological platform that streamlined workflow processes.

Across the country, laboratory professionals are constantly innovating to overcome new challenges and advance the industry’s commitment to patients. Kortney Martin, who serves as the Senior Analytical Chemist at Aegis Sciences Corporation, is one of the many lab professionals leading the way to streamline and implement new technologies designed to improve systems and processes in the laboratory setting.

In a fast-paced environment like the high-volume laboratory at Aegis, staying at the forefront of technology while maintaining a keen-focus on quality and turnaround time is critical to the work they do every day. For Kortney, these priorities are always top of mind—she’s laser-focused on identifying and implementing efficient ways to streamline workflows and improve the lab’s processes.

“Her constant focus on quality and her ability to think critically is what makes Kortney one of the best in the industry,” says Sarah Edwards, Aegis’ Laboratory Operations Manager.

When the Aegis Research and Development (R&D) team first proposed the introduction of the Agilent Ultivo Quadrupole LC-MS/MS instrument as the right platform to enable the company to combine a large number of behavioral health assays, senior leadership immediately recognized Kortney as the right leader to get it done.

Kortney accepted the challenge and immediately began the planning process to establish a successful implementation. She attended countless meetings, learned the ins and outs of the new software, suggested improvements and even created a training video to help ensure a seamless integration of the platform and the best outcome for her laboratory team.

“Kortney has established an unmatched reputation for excellence and integrity in everything she does, and this new technology was received by the laboratory team with high praise and enthusiasm, enabling the team to continue to process highly accurate and reliable tests,” adds Sarah.

Lab professionals like Kortney who go above and beyond are the foundation of the clinical laboratory industry as they work to ensure that patients continue to receive highly accurate and reliable test results that provide the right answers at the right time.