Geraldine Lightle

London Laboratory
Services Group

Formed in 2000, London Laboratory Services Group (LLSG) – a joint venture of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care, London – provides a range of both routine and specialized laboratory testing and clinical consultation to support the diagnoses and treatment of patients not only within southwestern Ontario, but nationally and internationally as well.

LLSG also provides educational training opportunities and continuing education for a broad range of health-care professionals, including medical residents, pathology residents, medical laboratory technology students, laboratory assistant students and pathologists’ assistants.

LLSG’s 448 employees perform more than 2,700 different types of laboratory tests, and more than seven million tests each year. It is one of only a handful of laboratories in Canada to perform testing on trace elements such as blood mercury levels, one of five labs in Ontario to perform maternal serum screening, and is a centre of excellence in flow cytometry (used for identification of leukemias and lymphomas).

With an operating budget of $55 million the labs are an integral part of providing high-quality care to LHSC’s patients.

ABOVE: Geraldine Lightle, a medical laboratory technologist, enjoys the view provided by the new 10th floor lab space in the North Tower at Victoria Hospital.

BELOW: The new North Tower at Victoria Hospital has begun opening inpatient spaces as well as the new laboratory.

The new North Tower at Victoria Hospital

NEW SPACE offers
a view from the top

Geraldine Lightle has worked for the London Laboratory Services Group (LLSG) serving patients for 35 years in different labs and various roles, but in all that time she never had much of a view.

“It was sometimes hard to operate in what felt like the out-of-the-way places of the hospital,” says Geraldine, a medical laboratory technologist. “But we always managed.”

Historically, the various labs that comprise LLSG – a joint venture of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care, London – were spread out across four sites of the two organizations, often in basement locations and in a segmented manner.

“It was really split up,” says Geraldine. “We often had to walk through other departments just to get to our colleagues in other lab areas.”

Although the pathology labs at University Hospital and microbiology at Victoria Hospital consolidated in 2002, it wasn’t until October 2010 when, after months of careful preparation and planning, the remaining nine specialized sections of LLSG consolidated into a brand new space with one of the best views in the city of London: the 10th floor of the new North Tower at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital. The move was part of the Milestone 2, Phase 2 city-wide hospital restructuring project.

As spaces that handle chemical substances need special venting equipment to capture fumes and particulates in the event of a spill, locating the laboratory space on the top floor of the North Tower allowed for efficient venting directly through the roof, rather than running the necessary duct work throughout the building.

Offering more than just efficient venting and a spectacular view of the city, the new 27,400 sq. ft. space brings together technologists, biochemists, scientists and laboratory medical staff in an unprecedented way to increase collaboration, share equipment and resources and most importantly, give new opportunities to improve patient care.

“This new laboratory space has created a situation where everyone benefits,” says Glen Kearns, integrated vice president of diagnostic services, which includes LLSG.

The hospital saves dollars by sharing resources and allowing the same piece of equipment to be utilized by multiple laboratories. In many cases, some of the state-of-the-art equipment in the new location could not have been purchased if just one lab had access to it. “There just wouldn’t have been sufficient usage to warrant its purchase,” says Dr. Bertha Garcia, medical director of the pathology and laboratory medicine program.

In addition to more access to better equipment, the physical layout of the new space also allows for more sharing of ideas. Split into an east side housing special chemistry labs and a west side which houses labs that perform molecular diagnostics and microbiology, the layout is highly conducive to collaboration. Medical and scientific staff from different labs are now together for the first time, enhancing their ability to develop new tests and improve methods.

“By having access to more specialized equipment within with this environment of collaboration, we have the potential to enhance, and become leaders in, patient care,” says Dr. Garcia.

For Geraldine, her new surroundings are full of possibilities.

“It’s a gold mine of experience on the 10th floor, with all the specialty labs together now,” she says. “The place has a great feeling and a great energy.

“Plus,” she smiles, “I finally have a window.”