Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary acts – this is how PHC’s lab team, located at St. Paul’s Hospital, has been functioning for the last two months. 

“Our team is agile, with a get-it-done attitude of being resourceful to get a task accomplished. And it’s always been this way – even way back when I started as a resident in 2003 and through all of my career,” says Dr. Daniel Holmes, head of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

It wasn’t in their original plans for their lab, but when the need arose to conduct the testing for suspected COVID-19 cases, the Virology lab leadership and staff looked at their space and knew they needed a contained space where the tests could be done safely without putting their health or their colleagues’ health at risk. Within a few days, the space that was originally their wash-up room was repurposed for testing and housing a repurposed second-hand instrument. Open space around their large automated instruments (Cobas 6800s) had temporary walls erected around them, converting them into negative pressure rooms.

This is just one of the many examples of how the team stepped up to the challenge. Other examples include:

  • Repurposing a second-hand DNA/RNA extraction instrument from Boston to increase testing capacity.

  • Literally running from home to help call our test results.

  • Voluntarily coming in early in the morning and staying late into the night.

Over the last two months, the lab team has conducted over 13,000 COVID PCR tests identifying over 500 COVID patients and now has the largest COVID testing throughput capacity of any laboratory in B.C.

“We’ve seen a phenomenal response from the lab techs and virology team. Our team atmosphere has really enabled us to get the job done,” says Dr. Nancy Matic, Medical Microbiologist, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

With National Medical Laboratory Week coming to a close, join us in celebrating the lab technologists, lab assistants, microbiologists, researchers, and more who continue to show up and take the COVID-19 challenge head on.


This page last updated May 1, 2020 5:33pm PDT