UR Medicine Labs is a large operation with many moving parts. From phlebotomists who draw blood at patient clinics across Monroe, Genesee, and Livingston counties to couriers who transport the specimens to locations where testing is performed.
More than half of these outpatient specimens are sent to the outpatient (OP) laboratory on Ridgeland Road in Henrietta.
Much of the building is leased by the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and also houses the Microarray Lab, Clinical Trials, Lab Outreach, Client Services, and Courier Services.
The OP lab has a staff of 12 who run tests six days a week. While a large portion of outpatient tests for UR Medicine Labs are performed there, the lab can sometimes go unnoticed due to its location, says lab manager, Liz Peterdy.
“I think people are surprised to know how much we do and that we have the large equipment that they have at the main lab (at Strong Memorial Hospital),” she said.
Besides the chemistry and hematology areas, the lab at Ridgeland has a fully staffed specimen management and reference lab.
Pathology first began leasing space in the building in 2008. The following year, a lab was set up to allow for testing of clinical trials specimens. More equipment was added to accommodate outpatient testing, and volume has continued to grow ever since.
Today, the lab at Ridgeland tackles a wide scope of work. There are a combined 4 million clinical trials and outpatient tests performed there every year.
Helping Build Something
Clinical trials specimens come from patients participating in a variety of trials for new or experimental treatments.
These specimens are received from across the U.S. and beyond, and their results will be used for the development of treatments for anything from Parkinson’s disease to infertility, or certain types of cancer.
“The CT samples are definitely unique to this lab,” said assistant lab supervisor, Jason Thomas. “The majority of our work is outpatient, but the CTs are interwoven with those clinical samples, which make very unique challenges,” he said. “We have interactions not just with the samples, but with the CT team.”
This means assisting with outside audits that ensure the lab is compliant with regulations for clinical trials testing. Each step of the process, from the time the specimens arrive to when their results are reported, is calculated with great care.
“With all of that, we look at the structure of everything we do and scrutinize our processes – more, I think, than other labs do,” said Thomas.
From a lab perspective, it’s often gratifying to know that you’re playing an important role in helping patients.
“We get a lot of feedback from our clinical trials team and a lot of satisfaction from seeing the results used in the studies when they go on for FDA submission,” said Peterdy. “It’s really rewarding to see that you are helping them build something.”
The lab’s days at Ridgeland Road are numbered as the department prepares to move all of its operations to Bailey Road. The first phase of the relocation project is breaking ground in October 2017 and the Ridgeland team is slated to move into the space by early 2019.
Being the “first” lab at Bailey will be an adjustment as it moves into a larger space adjacent to other testing areas, but is expected to improve communication and workflow as labs come under one roof.
Kelly Brewer is a technical specialist who works at Ridgeland’s chemistry lab. She said she likes the current location because it allows her to do a variety of things.
“I get to work Chemistry, Hematology, and it’s a small enough group that we all get along,” she said. “We’re like our own little family.”
Brewer said she looks forward to relocating, though it will mean changing the way things are now.
“It’s going to be different, but I think it’ll be good,” she said.
Top: Liz Jackson, MT, tracks samples at the Chemistry Laboratory.
Above: Erika De Almeida, MT, reads blood specimen tubes in the Hematology Lab at Ridgeland Road.