Lab technicians gather to celebrate vital role Published April 25, 2012 By 81st Medical Group 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Laboratory technicians of Keesler Hospital's 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron join laboratory professionals across the nation to celebrate National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week April 22-28. The week honors laboratory professionals and the vital role they play in helping diagnose illnesses and treat patients. The event provides the profession a unique opportunity to increase the public's awareness and appreciation of laboratory professionals. This year's theme is "Laboratory Professionals Get Results." According to web sources, laboratory professionals represent the second largest sector among health-care workers, following nurses. Up to 85 percent of the decisions about a person's diagnosis and treatment are based on laboratory test results, so both patients and doctors depend upon the accuracy of lab results. The laboratory is the front line of the public health system, protecting communities from emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. "Our technicians provide critical information about your health to providers by analyzing a wide variety of specimens from routine blood tests and cultures to biopsies," said Maj. Christina Encina, core lab chief. "Our technicians work hard behind the scenes completing hundreds of tasks daily to ensure the 81st Training Wing, the 403rd Wing and more than 27,000 beneficiaries receive the highest quality of care through laboratory results." To further improve the laboratory's capabilities, the 81st Medical Group is home to the only medical genetic center in the Department of Defense. The genetics laboratory supports more than 120 military medical facilities by providing chromosome, gene and DNA testing capabilities. The clinical and pathology laboratory also maintains one of only three Air Force Blood Donor Centers. The center's personnel and their donors play a key role in ensuring the DOD ships more than 1,000 units of blood weekly to more than 50 U.S. military hospitals throughout Afghanistan and the Middle East. These units play a vital role in the direct medical care of wounded service members in worldwide contingency operations. Securing Homeland Defense is another crucial mission the laboratory maintains. The laboratory uses the Joint Biological Agent Identification and Detection System. This instrument system provides medical leaders and commanders with rapid and specific identification of biological threat agents. This capability is especially important in the deployed environment where rapid identification enables commanders and health-care providers to make decisions that govern early warning, intervention and disease prevention. To participate in a lab tour, call 228-376-4419.