CRH Workforce Spotlight: Lab Molecular Team

Lab Molecular team_news
Pictured above from left to right are Emily Mapes, Courtney Morris, Mary Young, Allyson Porter, Annie Ruiz, and Torrie Meyer.
The Lab Molecular Team – comprised of Medical Laboratory Scientists – is responsible for putting together and processing the COVID Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in-house tests. PCR is a technique used to amplify, or copy, small segments of DNA. The team consists of Microbiology Technical Specialist Courtney Morris, who oversees the testing process, and Medical Laboratory Scientists Emily Mapes, Torrie Meyer, Annie Ruiz, Allyson Porter, Mary Young, and Terrah McHaley. 

The in-house COVID PCR test is a delicate, lengthy, and detail-oriented test that is divided into three phases. Phase one, which can take up to two hours, involves setting up samples and getting reagents ready. A reagent is a substance or compound that can facilitate a reaction. Phase two involves the extraction of the virus genetic material. During the third phase, or the PCR portion, the team amplifies the small amount of genetic material extracted and replicates it multiple times until the virus is detected, if present. The in-house test allows for multiple samples to be run at the same time. In an eight-hour period, as many as 300 patient tests may be run, according to Annie Ruiz. Prior to running samples in-house, the tests were sent to outside laboratories, which meant results would often take more than 48 hours to get back. 

After the team was trained in molecular testing, they started running an average of 50-80 patient tests per day. It reached up to 300 per day, and today it is between 200 and 250. “We always try to do our best so the hospital can continue offering great service to the community,” said Annie. “We try to find ways to speed up our process without compromising results. As a team we encourage each other to do our best, since this test is very hands-on and can easily take a toll on you.”

The team enjoys being able to help patients while working behind the scenes. “They are really working hard to get these tests done in a timely manner, and it’s not a quick easy testing protocol,” said Laboratory Testing Services Manager Darcy Hill. 
We want to thank the team for the great work they do to provide this important service to our patients! 

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