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Philip Health Services lab aces CLIA inspection

The laboratory department of Philip Health Services, Inc. has not only passed its semi-annual mandatory Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIP) inspection, but passed with 100 percent compliance.

Connie Sandstrom, the lab manager and one of the technicians, said, "Our lab at PHSI performs about 4,000 tests per month. Depending on what tests are being done, the average turn around time from when ordered by a physician until the results are in his hand is around 35 minutes. Sandstrom's crew includes techs Melanie Tezon and Darla McCain and phlebotomist Kristina Freeman.

PHSI administrator Kent Olson said, "You really don't have a hospital without some kind of lab functions. All hospitals, no matter how large, need to use reference labs. Some tests are rare enough or so specialized that outside experts are used to do tests and interpret the results. There is no lab in the country that can do it all. The number of various tests available for a hospital the size of PHSI becomes an economic issue."

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulates all lab testing through the CLIP. These regulations set standards to improve quality control and quality assurance, management, personnel and lab proficiency. The on-sight inspection completed last November has reported that Philip's lab passed with a 100 percent compliance. The local lab has now held this 100 percent standing for the last 10 years.

Sandstrom said, "We all take a lot of pride in our laboratory and we work with a great bunch of people." She said that there are several main categories of tests with various specific tests under each. Hematology could include around eight testing areas. Chemistry has around 24, cardiac profiles have three tests, and then there are urinalysis and coagulation tests. Many other tests are also available, such as pregnancy, influenza, mono, strep and others. The total comes to over 70 different in house tests available at PHSI.

Olson said that this is a huge factor at any hospital, since even with the most insightful doctors, over 70 percent of health care decisions are guided by lab test results. "A lab is a discovery process," said Olson. "Tests are how doctors can figure out and determine actions based on such patient information."

The PHSI lab is currently fully staffed, but staffing has been a concern. Some lab schools at universities are having difficult times staying open. The instructors can make a higher income by being "on the front line, rather in front of the classroom," said Olson. During the same time, the health care field in general has been struggling with an ever increasing need for professionals.

The technology is also increasing. PHSI acquired a new chemistry analyzer last May. The analyzer cost close to $40,000 plus the maintenance agreement. "It is difficult to find an analyzer for a hospital our size," said Sandstrom. "Most are designed to meet the needs of larger hospitals."