Posted on Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Laboratory Professionals Week celebrates professional medical technologists for the results they get for patients on a daily basis to assist in the detection and treatment of disease. For Speare Memorial Hospital’s laboratory professionals, this year’s annual recognition also marks the introduction of increased testing options for higher quality and more exacting results in a shorter amount of time.
“We are adding molecular testing for earlier detection of MRSA, Clostridium difficile (a highly contagious bacterial intestinal infection), Group B Strep for expectant mothers, and sexually transmitted disease” says Speare’s Laboratory Director Thomas Costigan, MT, AAB. “Before it would take up to two days to verify MRSA while we waited for a culture to grow. Now with the new molecular test we will be able to have the results within an hour and 99 percent certainty.”
Costigan explains the molecular tests are more expensive, but are more exact, hence the higher quality result in a very short amount of time. He says, “In the end the new testing is cost neutral, because we can put a patient’s mind at ease, or enable their doctor to begin treatment, sooner.”
New Testing for Lyme Disease Being Added
Just in time for tick season, Speare’s Lab will also be employing new testing for the detection of Lyme Disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 95 percent of reported cases of Lyme Disease in 2012 came from 13 states, including New Hampshire.
Beginning in early May, Speare’s Lab will begin validating a new test for Lyme Disease that produces results in 45 minutes. Previously, the Lab would have to send out for results which would take two to three days. Costigan explains that while the Lab will use this new test for primary results, they will also be validating and comparing those results with other testing methods to ensure accuracy.
Laboratory Home Offers Patients Higher Quality Results and Customizable Testing
While the quality and accuracy of these new tests is enhanced, Costigan says the quality of testing at Speare’s Lab overall is significantly higher than a large, independent, for profit, high volume lab. He explains, “It is important for patients to know that they do have a choice in which lab they go to, or have their testing sent to. While many insurance providers are offering lower or no co pays to patients who utilizes laboratory services in other parts of the state, the trade off is convenience and travel time, not to mention delays in getting results.
Costigan says when patients have their lab tests done elsewhere, or ask for the tests to be sent out, those results are not part of the patient’s medical record here at Speare. By choosing Speare as their laboratory home, the Lab can partner with patients’ providers on customizable tests that relate better to a patient’s individual care needs. “We know our patients and have a more complete picture of their health history. Not to mention we have some of the best phlebotomists anywhere.” Costigan is referring to the fact the Lab has a large population of “seasonal” patients who come to Speare just to get their blood drawn—some from as far away as New York.
Nationally Certified by College of American Pathologists
Speare’s Lab is accredited by the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists (CAP,) which advocates for high-quality and cost-effective medical care. CAP is a voluntary accreditation that measures performance against industry best practices and recognizes laboratories for “excellence of the services being provided.” The process includes an inspection of the lab’s records and quality control procedures, as well as a review of staff qualifications, equipments, facilities, safety program and record.
Two Locations for Patient Convenience
The main Lab located at Speare is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. There is also a blood drawing station at the Hospital’s medical office building—Speare Memorial at Boulder Point—located on Boulder Point Drive off Tenney Mountain Highway. It is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch. “Our Boulder Point Lab has shorter wait times, not to mention it is more convenient for patients living in west Plymouth, the Newfound area, and the Baker River Valley,” notes Costigan.