Project manager Scott Chatterton stands with Interior Health professional practice leader Brittany Tomson and laboratory assistants Stacey Williams and Nola Lynch in front of the new Salmon Arm outpatient lab located at #2-2770 10th Ave. NE, next door to the old lab. (Rebecca Willson/ Salmon Arm Observer)

VIDEO: Shuswap Outpatient Lab readying to receive patients at new location

New lab next door to old location features bigger waiting room, more streamlined services

Final touches are being made at the Shuswap Outpatient Lab as staff ready to once again receive patients.

The lab, located at #2-2770 10th Ave. NE in Salmon Arm, has been closed since June 5 as the service is moved into a newly renovated unit in the same building. Interior Health asked patients with routine or non-urgent blood work to hold off receiving services until June 12, the anticipated reopening, or to visit a lab in a nearby area.

The bright and modern space can welcome more patients in a bigger waiting room with more streamlined services, said Brittany Tomson, a professional practice leader with Interior Health (IH).

“We have a dedicated reception desk which has better accessibility for patients, and we will have hired two dedicated clerks,” said Tomson. “So they’ll be able to attend to patients as soon as they come in, which is huge for our access and flow.”

Another upgrade that will speed up the lab’s processing time is the inclusion of label printers at each station, whereas previously all lab assistants had to share one printer, often waiting a while before labelling and processing samples, said Tomson.

“It’s all decreasing wait times, streamlined, more efficiency is what we’re trying to get at,” said Tomson. “Better quality of care for patients.”

New phlebotomy chairs now sit in four of the lab’s five bay stations, with the last housing a bed and extra supplies. The outpatient lab performs phlebotomy (blood work) and ECG scans, and any collection kits that need to be picked up or dropped off also come through the lab.

The lab will employ the same level of staff as the previous location, but Tomson said IH is recruiting and she anticipates by July the lab will be operating at full staffing levels.

“Staff are excited and we’re hoping patients are excited as well.”

Tomson said there are key goals and numbers IH has in mind regarding patient attendance and she expects the first month will be an adjustment in the new space.

“Numbers will go up, especially with the new clerks because, as simple as it sounds, that’s somebody to answer the phone,” laughed Tomson. “Before, it was my staff, having them stop work and answer a phone instead of having another patient checked in.”

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