Lab Renovations at Howard County General Moving Right Along!

Hip Hip Hooray!

In the 15 years I have been at Howard County General Hospital, not much had been done to improve the physical space of the laboratory.   Over the years, our test menu, staff numbers and instruments grew in size, but our space did not.  Every square inch of countertop was used.   Every square foot of floor space was occupied.   In a word, the laboratory was cramped.
The CAP regulatory folks agreed, and cited us with 13 space deficiencies in 2005 plus an additional 3 for inadequate electric, ventilation, temperature and humidity control.  Short-term solutions were implemented, including use of a trailer for additional office space.  Long-term solutions were promised in the Hospital’s Campus Development Plan through renovation of the laboratory.

I am happy to announce that the first phase of the laboratory reconstruction is now complete.  The new Clinical Laboratory, Surgical Pathology, and Outpatient Laboratory are now open.   The Clinical Laboratory testing area has doubled in space and has windows with a view.   Surgical Pathology has grown from a single workstation to four workstations and a conference room.   The Outpatient Laboratory has moved to the Hospital’s new Patient Pavilion wing, directly across from patient registration and waiting lounge.   We couldn’t be more thrilled!

We also had some OMG moments along the way.  How can we possibly move with just three days notice?   Why didn’t they tell us there is a support column located directly in front of our supply delivery door?   Who put the room’s thermostat on a wall behind a refrigerator-freezer, twice?  Why is there no emergency power in this room?   What do you mean it won’t fit through the door?  Does anyone have the key to this locked door so we can turn on the water valve for our Hitachis?  How can we possibly have so much stuff to throw away?  How can we possibly have so much stuff to move?  Does anyone know how to transfer a call on the new phones?   What is that ringing bell?  (Blood Bank, Specimen Receiving, Laboratory Deliveries, and unanswered phone calls all have new unique bell alerts that staff must distinguish and respond to.)   Does anyone know where  such-and-such  is?

Yes, things are not perfect, but they are much better than before.  The additional new space really does improve our work environment and opens new possibilities for our future.   In another five months the Laboratories’ offices, break room and bathrooms will be built.  A few months after that, additional office space and a shared conference room will be built.   The laboratory will then vacate the trailer and begin planning the next laboratory expansion phase.   That’s right!  The Hospital’s Campus Development Plan includes a second laboratory renovation in the near future.   I can’t wait!

Bonnie Hammond
Laboratory Manager
Howard County General Hospital