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National Medical Laboratory Week: Celebrating unsung heroes of the health care system

We're recognizing the important contributions of those who work in the medical laboratory system. Though their work often takes place behind the scenes, their role in the health care system is vital.
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​Medical lab staff play a critical role in the health system by ensuring both patients and health care providers have the information they need to confirm diagnoses and inform health care decisions.

As part of National Medical Laboratory Week, we are taking the opportunity to celebrate the important contributions of the many people who work in the medical laboratory system. While their work often takes place behind the scenes, their impact never goes unnoticed.

Read the stories below from a few of our own PHSA lab staff to learn about what they do and why they’re passionate about their work.

Leah Young, BC Centre for Disease Control​

Public Health Technologist, Environmental Microbiology

Leah Young in lab coat in front of rack of test tubes“I’ve been a medical laboratory technologist for 12 years now, and I’m still alive and kicking. I’m responsible for testing and reporting results for drinking water samples, gastrointestinal outbreak samples and food samples. There are many other tests I am trained to do but only when needed, for example, legionella, a bacteria that can cause a serious type of pneumonia, or botulism testing, a toxin that attacks the body's nerves and causes difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death.”

“I think that during the pandemic, the public saw how important laboratory work is. I just hope they don’t forget the importance of what we do to support clinical diagnoses and public health surveillance.”

Rohini Dani, BC Cancer

Quality Control Lead, BC Cancer Vancouver Pre-and Post-Analytical Lab

Portrait of Rohini DaniRohini has been working with PHSA for over 15 years. She provides training, orientation and mentorship to students and new staff, performs competencies and audits, and validates procedures and equipment.

“I reprioritize workflow and help the medical laboratory assistants with their job duties when we’re short-staffed so patients can be seen by their physician and receive treatment in a timely fashion.”

“From the pandemic to the implementation of the Clinical and Systems Transformation (CST) Cerner system and now, the staff shortages we are currently facing, I’m so proud of my department for the resilience they have shown during such challenging times. I know that they are feeling the burnout, as most people in health care are, but still, they persevere to minimize the impact it has on patient care.”​

“The services we provide in the lab help health care providers diagnose, monitor and treat cancer. A patient’s journey at BC Cancer usually begins in the lab and we strive to provide compassionate care.”

“If we can in any way contribute to making a patient’s experience with cancer more tolerable, we will go out of our way to do it.”

Betty Chapelski, PHSA, Vancouver Coastal Health

Medical Laboratory Technologist, Vancouver General Hospital​​

Betty Chapelski in face mask and lab coat, standing in lab next to computer monitorsBetty has worked in medical technology since 1964 and has given over 59 years of service to PHSA. She started at the Shaughnessy Hospital and eventually transferred to Vancouver General Hospital in 1993, where she works in the hematology and chemistry departments.

“Since I first started working, the field has made tremendous technological advances with many new challenges, evolving from mostly manual testing and handwritten results to the predominantly automated testing and information technology of today.”

One of the best things about my job is the camaraderie among my coworkers. We exchange knowledge of interesting medical cases and talk about our experiences and frustrations as we troubleshoot aging instruments. We support each other through the difficult times such as during COVID, knowing that we supply the critical information needed for a patient’s diagnosis and treatment.”

Even after all these years, Betty remains enthusiastic about her profession. She expresses her excitement for the recently developed LAMP molecular test which has nearly 100% sensitivity in the diagnosis of malaria and saves a lot of manual screening time, as well as a new automated chemical analyzer which has the potential to process over 100 different tests.​​​

Happy Medical Lab Week!​

Our sincerest gratitude goes out to all those working in labs across PHSA. Thank you for stepping up to every challenge to ensure the health care system runs smoothly while upholding the highest standard of care.

SOURCE: National Medical Laboratory Week: Celebrating unsung heroes of the health care system ( )
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