By: Melody Spurney
The Bio-Center Laboratory is the testing hub for all Riordan Clinic testing, including the Check Your Health lab profiles, and September is a busy month for lab staff.
Lab Manager Karen Moore, MLT (CSMLS), said the lab will be extra active late this month as samples arrive from Check Your Health lab draws in Wichita, Hays, and Overland Park. She worked with clinic providers to create this year’s five lab profiles: Mega, Nutrition, Advanced Wellness, Basic Wellness, and Hormone. She said that the Mega, which is the largest and most complete profile offered during Check Your Health, includes more than 75 unique tests that are done in the Bio-Center Lab. During the spring Check Your Health event, the Bio-Center Lab staff completed approximately 3,400 unique tests.
After a patient’s lab is drawn in Wichita, Hays, or Overland Park, it is delivered to Wichita, where a phlebotomist processes it according to the procedure for a specific test. It is then taken to the Bio-Center Lab scientists. Specimens that are time sensitive are processed immediately, others are stored and processed in batches to increase efficiency. During Check Your Health, participants typically receive reports in two to three weeks.
Medical Laboratory Scientist Julie Abel, MLS (ASCP) CM, said the week after collection is usually the busiest when lab scientists run batches of tests for the Check Your Health participants. Lab scientists have specific education in order to troubleshoot various instrument and patient-specific scenarios to provide reliable results.
There’s more to testing than simply putting a test tube of blood into a machine. Medical Laboratory Scientist Melissa Ortiz, MLS (ASCP) CM, said that the lab scientists process samples for high-complexity testing that requires extra steps, such as separating plasma from red blood cells, to refine the sample.
Results are reviewed for quality, taking into consideration a number of things, including, whether or not the specimen was collected properly, if it matches previous test results if they are available, if a machine is working properly, or if the patient is taking any medications or supplements that might affect the result.
Karen said that temperature and packaging can affect the quality of a sample. In cases when the specimen isn’t properly packaged it will be rejected. She recalled one memorable sample that was required to be kept cold and arrived packaged with a bag of frozen peas.
A Unique Lab
Like the Riordan Clinic, the Bio-Center Lab was founded in 1975. It has been a key foundation of the clinic’s treatment strategies and research. The lab and its five full-time ASCP-certified medical lab scientists provide services for Riordan Clinic patients and serves as a reference lab for clinics and physicians throughout North America.
In-house research has led the Bio-Center Lab to develop specialized tests and methodologies that are unique to the lab that will yield the most clinically significant results.
Lab specialties include clinical analysis of nutritional levels, testing for pyrroles, vitamin C, glutathione, B1, B2, B6, and analysis of amino acids, fatty acids, and trace minerals. The lab offers more than 100 unique types of tests, and in 2021 performed a total of nearly 40,000.
The Bio-Center Lab is a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified lab that has been certified since 1976.
Karen said she enjoys the variety of work at the lab, as well as the hours and location.
“The lab is small, but the tests are varied. There’s always something new happening,” she said.
Julie agreed that the specialized tests and the unique instrumentation are some of the things she enjoys about working for the lab. She also said that she likes the family atmosphere that exists with co-workers.
“Everyone at the lab and at Riordan Clinic work together because we want our patients to thrive in life,” she said.