Phlebotomists and lab technicians quietly roam the halls of Grays Harbor Community Hospital carrying the supplies of their profession in brightly colored baskets and bins. Lab orders come quickly from all areas of the hospital, and returned results can mean life or death for a patient in crisis. Medical Laboratory Scientists, Microbiologists, Medical Laboratory Technicians, and Phlebotomists not only serve the hospital’s testing needs but also provide various tests ordered by local area physicians, ensuring same-day results for a quicker diagnosis and therefore, recovery and continued health for patients in the Harbor.

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Lab
The state of the art laboratory serves the hospital as well as local area physicians with same-day results. Photo credit: Grays Harbor Community Hospital

The GHCH Lab team performs hundreds of tests 24/7 in a brightly lit state of the art laboratory beneath the Emergency Room. Lab Director, Charles Skorzewski, and his 27 talented employees work in relative anonymity but are the right hand to the physicians who rely on them for detailed analysis and diagnostic assistance. “We have a very dedicated medical laboratory team,” says Skorzewski. “They do an outstanding job. We pride ourselves on delivering timely and accurate results without the wait.”

“A patient can encounter a lab professional as an inpatient or outpatient of the hospital and occasionally at the outlying clinics,” said Skorzewski. With locations at both east and west campuses, the laboratory can quickly respond to (effective communication with) patients and medical providers.   Effective communication is part of the lab’s culture. The east campus location is the result of listening to feedback from patients. “It was brought up by the community that a second lab would be beneficial,” says Skorzewski. “We listened to the needs of the patients and the medical community and opened a second Blood Draw Lab two years ago. It’s been very well-received as part of the overall patient experience.”

One of the most common issues encountered by a phlebotomist at GHCH is clearing up misconceptions about fasting and blood draw preparedness. Many times, a patient will get orders from their physician to fast and they think that means they can’t drink water. The blood draw experience can be a little more challenging with a person who may be dehydrated, because it’s harder to obtain blood that lacks water. Lab professionals attempt to educate clients that fasting doesn’t necessarily include not drinking water unless specified by the doctor. “We have a very dedicated medical laboratory team,” says Skorzewski. “They do an outstanding job. We pride ourselves on delivering timely and accurate results without the wait.”

Aside from the two phlebotomy stations on east and west campus, the lab also includes a microbiology department with four lab professionals with 138 years of accumulated experience. (Two full time microbiologists who have been on staff for 40 years.) Says Skorzewski,

“They have a lot of knowledge. They can test for any type of infection, from wound cultures to throat cultures and blood cultures. They identify what bacteria is causing the infection, and identify antibiotics therapies so the right antibiotics can be prescribed.”

Recently the lab added a same-day procalcitonin test which can be used to detect or rule out the presence of sepsis in seriously ill people. A reaction by the body’s defense system to fight infection, left untreated, sepsis can trigger widespread inflammation, leading to organ damage, blood clotting, and eventual organ failure. Early detection is a key weapon in the battle to prevent it from spreading.

Moving forward, the lab will continue to solicit feedback from the people they serve. Skorzewski believes that his team offers an exceptional experience for those who visit. “We like to say that this is a place where patient care meets listening to the needs of our community.”

For more information, visit the Grays Harbor Community Hospital website or call 360-532-8330.

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