In 2016, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital made the move to join labs, creating an integrated system that improves turnaround times for tests and allows clinical knowledge to be shared across both sites, improving quality of care for patients at both organizations. Meet the people who work across both sites, supporting patient care every day.
Chunya Shi is a technical specialist in Haemotology where they have a guaranteed one-hour turnaround time for results. She oversees the team to make sure they hit that timeline, troubleshooting if there are any issues. She also looks at samples and adds notes about what results might be present, sending them to a pathologist if further review is needed. “Our cells are amazing – they’re so small but so powerful; they make our bodies move.”
Lorna Whittaker is a medical lab technician in the Outpatient Lab, where she does patients’ bloodwork and sends it to be analyzed in other areas of the lab. “The only connection patients have to the lab is through us. I like talking to patients – not a lot of people like having bloodwork done so we’re there to calm them and help them through the process.”
Maria Simone is a medical lab assistant in Microbiology, where she receives specimens from other areas of the hospital and makes sure they’re the proper quality for testing. She plants specimens on special plates that are optimized for different types of bacteria to grow so that it can be determined if that bacteria is present in the patient. “I love microbiology and the hands-on work we do here. It’s amazing what microbiology shows you.”
Sarah Kim is a point of care technical specialist, meaning she oversees tests that happen outside of the lab (i.e. at patient bedsides). With more than 182,000 point of care tests happening at St. Joe’s every year, she’s busy. “My job is to make sure all point of care testing is being done with the same quality as in the lab. I like it because it connects me with staff around the hospital and I’m always learning, even after 12 years here.”
Maria Pasic is a clinical biochemist at St. Joe’s who has developed a vision to create a centre of excellence in immunological disorders. These occur when our bodies begin to attack ourselves in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. “Our teams are doing amazing work in this area,” said Dr. Victor Tron, Joint Chief of Laboratory Medicine. “A centre of excellence would make this lab a go-to resource for hospitals across Canada.”
Hina Chaudhry is a medical technical specialist in the Special Coagulation Laboratory, overseeing testing, making sure instruments are working properly and giving residents a behind-the-scenes look at what her team does. “I enjoy coming to work because I know that what I’m doing is making a difference in patients’ lives, so it’s very rewarding.”
Meghan Cuthbertson is a medical laboratory technician who has a unique role, both collecting patients’ bloodwork in Phlebotomy and then registering and processing samples in our Core Lab so they can be analyzed. “The best part about working in both areas is you get to build a relationship with patients and you’re also part of their diagnosis and treatment plan – it’s really satisfying to see their whole journey.”
Vidya Beharry is a medical laboratory technologist who works in our Immunohistochemistry (IHC) Lab. IHC is used to diagnose malignant and non-malignant tumours and identify prognostic and predictive factors so patients have the best possible outcomes, especially in targeted therapies. “What we do is a continuous process – there’s always something to tweak. I make sure I stay up to date on current practices so that we can continue to evolve and improve.”
The microbiology team of Drs. Larrisa Matukas, Manal Tadros, Ramzi Fattouh and Yan Chen specializes in diagnosing infectious disease, and has been working across both sites developing an integrated vision to assist with the multitude of infections that occur in busy hospitals. “We know that every one hour delay in diagnosing a septic patient results in a seven per cent increase in mortality,” said Dr. Victor Tron, Joint Chief of Laboratory Medicine, “so what they’re doing is absolutely critical.”
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