LCO Health Center Lab Services Expanding with Addition of Lab Manager
Submitted by the LCO Health Center
The Lac Courte Oreilles Community Health Center has done it’s best to meet lab service needs of its patients over the years. But as more providers have been added lab staffing has remained the same causing delays and extensive wait times for important lab services. However, upon assessment the Health Director, Sarah Cormell, and the Medical Director, Dr. Palop found that not only was the lab underequipped for same day lab services, but also was understaffed.
The lab has been staffed by Medical Assistant Sara Henley for years. Health Director Sarah Cormell states, “Sara has done a phenomenal job doing more with less. She currently works along with a contracted Lab Consultant group and has phlebotomy training and they guide her on practice, but she is limited on types of tests she can perform in house at the LCO Clinic and how many lab draws she can do a day as one person.” The Medical Director added, “Although Sara has done a great job doing what she can with what she has available to her, a Health Clinic the size of LCO should definitely have at least two lab assistants and a Lab Manager that is a bachelor’s degree or higher who can manage the lab, expand types of lab tests necessary for timely diagnosis, for timely treatment plans for interventions, all in-house at your local Tribal Clinic. Labs are the necessary tool for providers to treat their patients. It’s a waiting game currently as labs are drawn and sent out and waiting for results and we have to fix that. Time is tissue, time is lives. We are here to make a difference and offer the best, which means offering quick turnaround in-house in lab services.”
As part of the Strategic Plan, former TGB Members and Health Advisory Board members supported the application to Indian Health Services to be a National Health Service Corp site for a Bachelor’s level or higher Lab Manager who could support growth of the lab infrastructure for LCO Health Clinic as well as perform lab testing, draws, etc. alongside the existing lab tech. LCO is no stranger to National Health Service Corps placement as David Axt, Pharm D in Pharmacy is also a corps service provider.
“This is a huge savings to the Tribe as well. What would normally be a $180,000+ role will be approximately $26,000 to the Tribe as a NHSC placement with IHS. By applying through IHS, Sarah Cormell, the Health Director utilized a resource and advocated for LCO by demonstrating the need.” Phyllis Wolf, LCOCHC Fiscal Manager states.
Wolf added the tribe will save over $150,000 in the Lab Consulting agreement per year because that service will no longer be needed with our own Lab Manager in house.
As a successful applicant, LCO Health Center is now able to expand lab services with a licensed CLIA Lieutenant Commander Summer Pearson who was the assistant Lab Director at Indian Health Service Oklahoma Hospital and Clinics. She will join LCO Health Clinic team on October 1, 2019! Although this initiative predates the new Tribal Council Members, the new TGB is supportive of the initiative as well and welcomes Summer to care for LCO through expanded lab services. The Health Clinic has allocated some funds in FY2020 to allow for minor remodel to accommodate additional draw chairs and lab equipment.