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Have you ever wondered . . .
- what happens to the blood sample you give at the doctor's office?
- how doctors diagnose diseases?
- how you can have a rewarding career helping others?
Welcome to the world inside the medical laboratory. It's a world where the medical laboratory professionals find answers to these questions and more. In the laboratory, a highly-skilled medical team of pathologists, technologists, technicians and Phlebotomists work together to determine the presence, extent or absence of disease and provide valuable data needed to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. The fact is, the practice of modern medicine would be impossible without the tests performed in the laboratory.
Though they spend less time with patients than doctors and nurses, medical laboratory professionals are just as dedicated to patients' health.
Medical Laboratorians are vital healthcare detectives, uncovering and providing information from laboratory analyses that assist physicians in patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as in disease monitoring or prevention. They use sophisticated biomedical instrumentation and technology, computers, and methods requiring manual dexterity and visual discernment to perform laboratory testing on blood and body fluids. Laboratory professionals work in two main areas of the Hospital Laboratory: Histopathology and the Clinical Laboratory.
The RRHS Laboratory has recently added a new type of testing that more rapidly identifies pathogens. With the new Molecular Diagnostic technology MRSA and Clostridium difficile, two "superbugs," are identified more quickly, more specifically and with greater sensitivity.
Cancer can often be detected by the appearance of cells in a tissue sample. Once a sample is taken from the patient, it's sent to the staff of Histology who cut and stain very thin sections for microscopic examination by the Pathologist. The histotech must work quickly and under pressure since the answers may be required while the patient is in surgery. Working closely with the Pathologist, the histotech cuts the tissues, mounts them on slides, and stains them with special dyes to make cellular details visible under the microscope. With the information learned from the section biopsy, the Pathologist and the surgeon find out if disease is present and if it has spread and can then decide on the best course of treatment for the patient.
Laboratory testing is no longer done solely inside of the laboratory or only by laboratory professionals. Many lab tests such as blood sugars are done as "point of care" tests at the patient's bedside by nursing staff and physicians in order to improve the timeliness of test result availability.
The Clinical Laboratory has many different areas of expertise for the analysis of blood and body fluids. They have the best of both worlds with the challenges and rewards of both medicine and science. The staff in the Hematology section perform blood cell counts and examine cells microscopically to determine if a patient is anemic or may have leukemia. When a patient needs a transfusion, the staff in the Blood Bank are responsible for typing the patient's blood and crossmatching donor units to see that compatible blood is chosen for the transfusion. Microbiology techs look for bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms in the body that can cause diseases such as Strep throat and urinary track infections. When a patient is put on blood thinner medication, the staff in the Coagulation Lab perform tests to monitor their anticoagulant therapy. The Chemistry Lab has numerous analyzers that perform a battery of screening and monitoring tests that check the patient's electrolyte balance, blood sugar level, cholesterol level, and other organ functions. This staff of highly trained professionals monitors the quality, accuracy, and the precision of the test results through analysis of quality control data to assure that the clinician is basing his diagnostic and treatment decisions on correct results. They also interact with other Hospital healthcare professionals.
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