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London Health Sciences Centre reaches significant COVID-19 lab testing milestone


For Immediate Release:
August 20, 2020

LONDON, Ontario – In service of the people across southwestern Ontario, the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PaLM) team at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has reached a critical milestone in testing volumes for COVID-19. The hospital-based laboratory first began processing COVID-19 test swabs in mid-March with the goal of building from an initial 50 tests per day volume to 3,000 tests per day. The PaLM team has now surpassed that initial milestone as they continue to expand testing capacity.

"We have been steadily increasing our testing volume capacity over these last four months and we are thrilled to have reached what we view as an important marker in our COVID-19 journey," says Glen Kearns, Integrated Vice President, Diagnostic Services and Chief Information Officer at LHSC. "Reaching this figure is a representation of much more than an increase in processing tests. It is the culmination of significant efforts behind-the-scenes to add new equipment, create newly renovated laboratory spaces, on-board new team members, and integrate various IT systems; which today allow for seamless and streamlined ordering and resulting of these COVID-19 tests."

PaLM has been regularly meeting a 24-hour turn-around time for COVID-19 testing results, even while increasing capacity to sixty-times the initial volume, using highly innovative digital solutions. Working together with LHSC’s Information Technology Services (ITS) team, PaLM has developed on-line test ordering tools, connectivity between the various health information systems that are used by clinicians to order tests and receive results, as well as digital solutions for accurately entering hundreds of results at a time. Together these novel technologies benefit all hospitals and assessment centres across southwestern Ontario, speeding up testing and ensuring high-quality results every time.

"Our labs have always held the view that our work is greater than simply processing a large volume of tests in a short amount of time," says Kearns. "We wanted to ensure we were considering the entire process from test ordering to delivery of the results, and have worked to improve the structure of our processes with that larger framework in mind. A fast lab turnaround time isn’t valuable to people or the system at large if the results aren’t also flowing back in a timely manner, so we are really proud that we have been able to develop a simplified, streamlined process that is meeting the needs and expectations of both clinicians and the individuals waiting for their results."

PaLM is a joint venture of LHSC and St. Joseph’s Health Care London. The labs provide a comprehensive range of routine and specialized testing and clinical consultation for patient care within southwestern Ontario and beyond. Through the pandemic, PaLM has expanded its regional collaboration to include seven public health units, long term care/retirement home operators and primary care providers. This collaboration of professionals, technologists, leaders, ITS team members, support staff, and vendors is the true success of achieving new levels of testing for people in our region.

Note: Interviews are available with Glen Kearns today, Thursday, Aug. 20, from 1:00 - 2:30 pm. Please contact Mandy Gelinas to arrange an interview time.

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 145 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 70 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca 

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For media inquiries contact:
Mandy Gelinas
Corporate Communications and Public Relations 
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 75157

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Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communicator on-call

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