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November 2020

Strong Memorial Hospital Onsite Labs Celebrate Successful Moves


Blood Bank

How do you move large testing equipment from one end of a hospital to the other without delaying patient care? The answer is, very carefully. After many months of meticulous planning and preparation, four clinical labs successfully relocated to newly renovated homes at Strong Memorial Hospital. For most, this was the first major workspace upgrade they have seen in 45 years. 

“Little did we know that you would be moving in the middle of one of the worst pandemics of the century, and you did that without disrupting a single test for any of our inpatients or outpatients that depend on you,” said Kathy Parrinello, hospital COO, in a video message to staff recorded in lieu of a ribbon cutting. The thank-you video also features footage from the moves and greetings from Pathology & Laboratory Medicine faculty and leadership.

The moves brought these groups into hospital space in G-2100 and 1-2100, a construction project that continued through the height of the pandemic. Automated Chemistry, Specimen Management (SMS), and a new Microbiology STAT lab moved into a shared workspace in 1-2100 and, below them, Blood Bank moved into G-2100.

Overcoming Obstacles

Each move had its own unique set of challenges, from maintaining operations through long periods of equipment downtime to rethinking how to establish daily workflow in a brand new setting. Moving SMS and Automated Chemistry required careful coordination. Starting in May, the whole front-end SMS system went manual for the next four months, which meant big changes to workflow, said Kristi VanDeWalle, chief SMS supervisor at SMH.

“The staff were willing to try anything to make us successful and that attitude and effort translated really well in the new space,” she said. “There was a really dynamic sense of teamwork through the whole process.” 

The last time any of these laboratories got “new” space was 1975. Debbie Masel, chief supervisor of Blood Bank and Transfusion Medicine, has spent the last few decades watching the lab grow, in terms of staff and services that it provides to the hospital. 

“We never really went through a major renovation in all that time,” said Masel. “Even though the Blood Bank changed a lot in 45 years, our space remained the same.” 

One thing remains clear – having efficient inpatient testing onsite will be part of inpatient care for many years to come. And, having a permanent home for the onsite labs will allow our clinical labs to grow to meet the day-to-day needs of patient care behind the scenes. 

“You were able to keep everything running smoothly and most everyone in the hospital did not even know it was happening,” said Parrinello. “It was an enormous feat for all of you, and thank you for everything you do for our organization.”

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