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Tift Regional Health System celebrates National Laboratory Professionals Week

Every year, Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) celebrates National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, which is April 23 - 29, 2017.  This special week is set aside to pay tribute to hardworking, dedicated laboratory professionals.  There are approximately 300,000 practitioners of clinical laboratory science in the United States and laboratory personnel are key members of all health care teams across the nation.

TRHS has over 80 certified laboratory professionals employed within its network. These unique professionals tirelessly provide around the clock laboratory support for all of TRHS and its surrounding communities.  As team members of one of the largest industries in the United States, the dedicated efforts of laboratory professionals often go unnoticed by the general public.

Tift Regional Health System currently employs 27 phlebotomists and two lab support technicians.  While most phlebotomists are centralized within the main lab, others are located in the outpatient area of the hospital and at West Campus.  Quite often labeled “The Ambassadors of the Lab,” they have direct contact with our patients and are responsible for obtaining quality specimens while providing guidance and training to various hospital staff.

The main lab, which is located within the Tift Regional Medical Center main campus, performs on average 4500 tests for approximately 600 patients daily.  The lab is divided into various categories by areas of study; chemistry, hematology, urinalysis, and coagulation all work together to build the core lab.  Projects are currently underway to update equipment which will improve patient safety by increasing accuracy and enhancing productivity and operator safety. 

The microbiology department produces results on the identification and susceptibility of bacterial pathogens.  Recently, this department has received a new instrument, MALDI – TOF, that provides rapid bacterial identification 24 to 48 hours sooner than traditional methods.  The microbiology department also performs molecular testing detecting 19 different viruses and other pathogens.  This “dual department” not only processes over 600 cultures per week, but also performs several serology samples on any given day. 

The transfusion medicine department (blood bank) provides blood services to patients which can mean the difference between life and death in mere moments.  The blood bank technicians are highly trained and ready to address lifesaving situations as they arise.  During 2016 alone, the TRHS blood bank performed 3,471 cross-matches and issued 2,847 units of packed red cells. Tift Regional Health System’s blood is supplied by the American Red Cross.  They also provide fresh frozen plasma, platelets, and cryoprecipitate.    

The histology department processes about 14,000 tissue specimens each year.  The histologists cut, on average, 110 tissue blocks in one day, preparing 250 slides.  Theses slides are examined by one of two pathologists and a diagnosis can be given usually within 48 hours or less.  The TRHS cytology department prepares and reads Pap tests from various physicians’ offices in surrounding communities.  In addition to Pap tests, non-gynecological specimens are received from within the hospital.  The histology and cytology departments are part of the pathology department.  

The send out department is also part of the core lab.  This department ensures proper collection, processing, and accurate shipment for all tests that are not offered at the TRHS laboratory.  These types of tests are often performed in larger reference laboratories across the United States where more complex methodologies are utilized.  Even though most send-out specimens are flown to Utah, the average turnaround time is only two to three days. 

The LIS (Laboratory Information System) department is a highly technical component of the TRHS laboratory.   This unique team provides the laboratory with necessary computer support. One of the vital aspects of this department is implementation, maintenance, training, and educating employees on the LIS.   

Cook Medical Center (CMC), a campus of Tift Regional Health System in Adel, also has 24-hour laboratory support.  CMC employees consist of 10 Medical Technologists including the lab manager and 2 phlebotomists. The CMC laboratory offers most of the services offered at the TRMC laboratory, but on a smaller scale.  The lab at CMC supports all surrounding communities as well as the inpatients at CMC and the Sylvia Barr Center. Testing that is not performed at CMC is forwarded to TRMC. 

TRHS also provides courier services to local offices and surrounding counties.  These staff members ensure rapid turnaround times as they deliver specimens to the main lab all throughout the day from various facilities.

The point of care department is responsible for all point of care testing not only at TRMC, but for the entire Tift Regional Health System to ensure regulatory compliance across the system.  While its office is located within the TRMC laboratory, this department is mobile and always on the go.  Tift Regional’s point of care network has outreach facilities that extend as far as Sylvester, Ocilla, Nashville and Adel.  The point of care services are rendered to over 35 various clinics and departments within the community.  

“Nearly 70-80% of a patient’s medical record consists of lab results.  I am truly privileged to work with such a dedicated and wonderful group of people.  They are a great team and truly care about providing the best care possible for our patients,” says Cindy Mitchell, director of laboratory services.  “From the wonderful ladies in the patient reception to all the areas of the lab, Tift Regional Health System is truly fortunate to have such an elite, gifted group of laboratory professionals, and I am proud to honor them during Laboratory Professionals Week.”

For more information about the laboratory or other services offered by Tift Regional Health System, visit