Newsroom

Date: 8/16/2010

Laboratory Upgrade enhances Patient Safety, Quality of Care at Hospitals of Community Healthcare System

(Top) Cutting the ribbon on the new analyzer equipment in the Central Laboratory of Community Healthcare System are (left to right) Larry Kaufman, Roche; Elizabeth Yee, vice president, Clinical Ancillary Services; Helen Torres, technical specialist-Chemistry, Community Hospital Laboratory; Don Fesko, CEO, Community Hospital; Brenda Eriksen, M.D., medical director of Pathology, Community Healthcare System and Arist Sgouroudis, director, Community Hospital Laboratory.

(Bottom) Greg Bieda and Melissa Walker, medical technologists in the Central Laboratory of Community Healthcare System, process blood samples and chemistry panels using the new cobas 6000® analyzer equipment.

New technology in the Central Laboratory at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System is providing faster results to physicians and providing patients with the highest level of accuracy. This fully integrated, automated technology is being utilized by all three hospitals of Community Healthcare System: Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart - first hospital system in Northwest Indiana with this capability.

“Our hospital system has invested more than $10 million to bring the latest, most advanced technology available to our labs for the greatest impact on the safety for our patients and the quality of their care,” said John Gorski, chief operating officer for Community Healthcare System. “Installation of the new analyzer represents another step in this commitment to continuously improve the quality of our patient care.”

A new $3 million analyzer, called the cobas® 6000 analyzer series, enhances and consolidates the testing process for blood samples and chemistry panels ordered by physicians. The equipment helps make the lab much more efficient by reducing manual sample handling; eliminating the need to transfer tubes from one analyzer to another, or further prepare samples before some blood tests. These special features mean there is now only one sample tube per patient, only one patient result report, further reducing the potential for human error.

Annually, the Central Laboratory of Community Healthcare System processes some 500,000 to 1.5 million tests, said Elizabeth Yee, vice president, Clinical Ancillary Services. As the number of lab tests continues to increase, it is essential for the laboratory to upgrade its capabilities and improve efficiencies to provide the best service.

“By streamlining the process with automated equipment and reducing the opportunity for error, the laboratory can ensure the highest quality and turnaround,” Yee said.

“Combining the new analyzer technology with other state-of-the-art processors such as our bar-code specimen tracking system, enables our hospitals to attain new levels of patient safety and security,” Yee said.

The new automated system consolidates testing previously performed by other units in the lab, reducing the amount of human handling. The analyzer has a testing menu that covers the majority of the laboratory’s typical tests and has the capacity to grow as volume of testing increases.

Another example of the lab’s commitment to quality is the result of its most recent survey and accreditation by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). CAP has awarded the laboratories of Community Healthcare System (Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago; St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart and their respective outpatient centers) with a system-wide accreditation.

While there are some 6,800 laboratories nationwide to receive CAP-accreditation, Community Healthcare System joins the ranks of only about 100 integrated system laboratories across the United States to earn this distinction.

For more information about the innovative programs and cutting-edge technologies making a difference in the lives of patients at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System: Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, please visit our web site at www.comhs.org.