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New chemistry analyzer installed at Portage Health

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Chemistry Technologist Gary Jordon demonstrates the lab's new Vitros 5600 analyzer installed at Portage Health.

Note: This was originally posted on: 04/17/2009

A new diagnostic machine is up and running in the Portage Health laboratory, just in time for National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week April 19-25.

The Vitros 5600, manufactured by Ortho Clinical Diagnostics in Rochester, NY, is the first one installed in Michigan and one of 20 installed in the United States.

Lead Chemistry Technologist Gary Jordon explained the analyzer does double duty running regular chemistry tests (such as glucose and electrolyte levels) as well as immunochemistry tests (such as pregnancy tests and cancer markers).

What this means for the lab technicians is less chance for error in missing a test, as the Vitros 5600 does the work of two previous machines.

“It was possible under the old system to take the samples from one machine to the other, and have the sample be put away before that second test was run,” Jordon said. “Having it all done on one machine means less chance of skipping a step.”

The new machine is also faster, taking about six minutes to run bloodwork tests instead of 12 minutes. That’s due, in part, to the analyzer’s ability to house 80 specimens at once, plus an additional “stat” lane that can be used as an override. In 2008, the Portage Health lab performed 447,398 tests, so a reduction in result time can be significant.

Laboratory Director Richard Kangas said purchasing the $207,000 machine was about a year in the making. Installation occurred in February, with specialists from Ortho Clinical in Rochester performing extensive testing and calibrating, running data for a few weeks before the machine went live on March 9.

Kangas and Jordon also received a week’s on-site training in Rochester and have completed additional online instruction. Eleven of the lab’s 25 employees are qualified to use the new machine, with Jordon taking the lead. One of the advantages, he said, is the electronic connectivity with Ortho Clinical. Every night, the machine sends codes to the parent company, which their personnel analyze each morning.

“Those people are often the first to notice when something needs to be adjusted or isn’t quite right,” Jordon said. “They’re the first to know of problems so it saves us service calls down the road.”

Kangas said that while the new machine quietly does its work in the basement without great fanfare, it offers considerable advantages to patients and personnel.

“This new analyzer provides our technicians with a quicker turnaround for physicians and a system that helps reduce errors,” he said. “While these improvements may not be obvious to the patient, these types of equipment upgrades greatly enhance the quality of healthcare service provided to the community at large.”

Note: This was originally posted on: 04/17/2009

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