High-Tech Lab Opens at Novato Community Hospital
May 18, 2023
Ashley Boarman
An Asian male lab scientist handles lab pipettes with samples outside of a safety shield piece of equipment in a hospital laboratory

Photo: Norio Tajima, a technical specialist, performs a COVID-19 test in Novato Community Hospital’s new onsite lab.

Novato Community Hospital’s 20-year-old clinical laboratory got a “glow up” this month.

The newly opened facility puts efficiency and testing accuracy for patients at the forefront, says staff.

According to Kaye Brown, the Sutter hospital’s lab service manager, “New, upgraded equipment streamlines workflows for quicker testing of patient samples and faster results to the physicians for more timely patient care.”

Staff celebrated the brighter and expanded space with a ribbon cutting.

Kimberly Kenley-Salarpi, a technical specialist, says the lab is now able to perform more outpatient testing.

Some “routine” tests include Complete Blood Count, Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, Hemoglobin A1c, and a urinalysis.

Lab staff will continue inpatient testing for patients in the emergency department, hospitalized patients and those individuals undergoing a surgical procedure.

Modern Lab

A Caucasian woman in a white lab coat holds lab materials in a clinical laboratory setting

Kimberly Kenley-Salarpi is a clinical lab technical specialist.

Lab tests are essential to modern patient care.

These tests allow physicians and other clinicians to diagnose, treat, manage and monitor patients’ conditions.

A large percentage of medical decisions  – some say up to 70% – depend entirely on lab test results. For this reason, having the latest and most reliable equipment is crucial for an acute care hospital like Novato Community Hospital to expertly treat patients.

Much of the technology in the new space has been upgraded to newer equipment, says Brown, signifying faster turnaround times and more accurate delivery of results. This will translate to increased testing volume in some instances.

Brown adds, “Our molecular diagnostic testing capacity has been doubled with the addition of a second instrument, which performs an enhanced version of PCR testing to detect Covid, Flu, RSV, and Strep A.”

With the COVID-19 virus becoming endemic, accurate testing for this and other highly transmissible respiratory viruses will help to identify infected patients so they can appropriately care for themselves, their families and help reduce the spread of illness to others.

Additionally, Brown explains that the hospital’s lab now has a robust testing menu with newly added fentanyl drug testing to help address the growing drug use crisis.

Beginning in 2023, under “Tyler’s Law” (SB 864), California became the first state in the nation to require all hospitals with an emergency department to screen for fentanyl whenever a urine drug screen has been ordered for a patient.

Beyond Tech, It’s People That Power the Lab

A Caucasian woman in purple scrubs removes a blood sample from a large cyclotron in a hospital laboratory.

Sheryl Creighton, a certified phlebotomy technician and lab assistant, handles a patient blood sample.

Beyond the physical tools, technologies and equipment, it’s the lab scientists and technicians who preform the tests, read and relay the results that make it all work.

“Upgraded instrument software and updated Laboratory Information System work together to provide dynamic and efficient results reporting. This fosters better partnerships between lab staff and care teams,” says Brown. “Seeking accuracy and high quality is at the heart of everything lab staff do.”

“Our experienced and dedicated lab team will use the new facility, continuing to improve and enhance our outstanding laboratory services and support our patient community,” says Lisa Gammon, Novato Community Hospital’s chief administrator.

The new Sutter Novato Laboratory is located in the Medical Office Building connected to the hospital at 165 Rowland Way in Novato, Calif.

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