National Medical Laboratory Week began April 19. The goal of this celebration of medical laboratory professionals and pathologists is to inform the public about the important contributions these skilled professionals make to patient care.
“This week is to honor these professionals,” said Diane Joiner Maier, Laboratory Services interim hematology team leader at Lake Regional Health System. “It gives people a peek into this much hidden, yet very essential part of every health care organization.”
Laboratory professionals, such as phlebotomists, obtain blood samples, and are usually the first to learn if a patient has cancer, the flu, a virus or other diseases. They help physicians choose the right antibiotics, when needed. They provide 70 percent to 80 percent of the information that physicians, nurses and other frontline providers require to diagnose and treat patients. Without the laboratory guidance results and assured accuracy, physicians only guess based solely on the clinical picture presented.
“The phlebotomists are on the very front lines with patients, and we could not do without them,” Maier said.
Laboratory professions require a minimum of an associate’s degree and internship experience.
Some histotechnologists and cytechnologists have master’s degrees and doctorate degrees associated with laboratory technology. Pathologists have a medical degree in addition to a specialty in pathology study of diseases. Many of the other staff also obtain bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degrees.
“We all have science degrees and are considered scientists,” Maier said.
Lake Regional’s Laboratory Services department employs 37 people and performs 405,000 tests annually. The Laboratory Services department touches all aspects of inpatient and outpatient care at the hospital and the clinics. Recently, the laboratory has had a key role in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic, by facilitating drive thru testing sites in Osage Beach and Lebanon.
“Yes, we are the laboratory: a group of proud, highly educated scientists who are dedicated to the highest standards to ensure that providers are armed with the best, most accurate information to provide quality health care to their patients,” Maier said. “We are proud to work together as a team with all of our other health care professionals, improving lives in the true Culture of One spirit.”
Lake Regional Health System provides comprehensive health care services to residents and visitors throughout the mid-Missouri region. The hospital is a Level II Stroke Center, Level II STEMI (heart attack) Center and Level III Trauma Center. Lake Regional also provides a wide range of specialty care, including cancer care, heart care and orthopedics. Plus, Lake Regional operates primary care clinics, Express Care clinics, rehab therapy clinics, programs for home health and hospice, and retail pharmacies. To learn more, visit lakeregional.com.