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Blood testing equipment upgraded
Brig. Gen. Kory Cornum, center, 81st Medical Group commander, joins members of the lab staff as they cut the ribbon marking the formal dedication of the core lab’s new analyzers Dec. 20. From left are Captain Caldwell, Staff Sgt. Zachary Derringer, Jimmy Collins, Master Sgt. Karen Jenkins and Airman 1st Class Rebekah Colon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adam Bond)
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Blood testing equipment upgraded

Posted 1/12/2011   Updated 1/12/2011 Email story   Print story


by Steve Pivnick
81st Medical Group Public Affairs

1/12/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 81st Medical Group Hospital laboratory boasts new equipment that improves its ability to respond to physician requests for blood tests.

The new system, the cobas® 6000 analyzer series manufactured by Roche Diagnostics, was formally unveiled Dec. 20. The equipment analyzes blood samples for routine and  innovative chemistry tests.

"The cobas 6000 analyzer series make our lab much more efficient," said Lt. Col. Daniel Bessmer, 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron pathology flight commander. "This system provides broad testing capability to enhance our practice of laboratory medicine for years to come. This is another step in our commitment to continuously improve our quality of patient care, while providing our medical staff with the tools they need."

He continued, "The hospital decided to upgrade the laboratory as demand for more tests continued to grow. The highly compact system consolidates more than 95 percent of routine testing, therefore requiring fewer analyzers, which optimizes lab staff efficiency.

With this system we save 1,200 manhours per year in maintenance alone and results in a 50 percent reduction of turnaround times for certain critical tests."

According to Capt. Mary Caldwell, core laboratory chief, "We perform more than a million tests annually and that demand continues to grow. We found ourselves needing to accomplish more every day with fewer resources as we filled our deployment taskings and people departed. With increased demand, we knew we needed to make improvements in order to maintain our goal of producing fast and accurate test results."

The captain explained, "The analyzer integrates multiple technologies that provide efficiency and the flexibility to grow as our needs change.

"Upgrading the laboratory was a tremendous task, but the transition was so smooth few people in the hospital noticed it was going on. Whenever you take on this type of project, you
worry how it will affect the daily workload and if it will impede the process," she said. "However, the process was painless thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of the core lab staff and Roche Diagnostics team who kept everything moving on schedule without much interference with our normal day-to-day processes."

The contract was awarded July 1. The two analyzers, which replaced four separate pieces of equipment, arrived Aug. 16 and installation was completed Sept. 16.

"It was an incredible schedule that had us going live within six weeks of the analyzers hitting the ground," she said. "It entailed countless hours of work by the (81st Medical Support Squadron) facilities staff to prepare the installation site and put in wiring and power for the new equipment. The effort also required training the staff and manually processing specimens for more than 30 days while the automation piece of the equipment was shipped in, validated and installed. This was accomplished while we continued to provide timely and accurate lab results to the providers for patient care."

Captain Caldwell observed, "We've streamlined processes and increased efficiencies by going from four testing platforms to two. The project enables us to remain on the cutting edge of technology so we can offer the best lab results to providers as they care for our patients."

Roche Diagnostics contributed to this report

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