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An Interview with Rosetta Belcastro

May 19, 2015
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RosettaRecently, Rosetta Belcastro joined the Laboratory Medicine Program team (LMP) as the new Manager for Clinical Research and Client Services. Her many roles will include helping drive strategy around how other programs request and access LMP services and diagnostic tissue, as well as working with Dr. Suzanne Kamel-Reid as a project manager for a grant-funded molecular diagnostics project.

We sat down with Rosetta to learn more about her background in lab medicine, her new roles and responsibilities in LMP and where she sees her portfolio growing in the future.

Read more…

Another Successful CAP Assessment for LMP

May 14, 2015
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logoCAPThis week LMP was assessed by a team from the College of American Pathologists (CAP). LMP achieved an incredible 99 per cent compliance rate with only 46 citations from over 6,000 requirements. (Not counting Blood Transfusion – they undergo their assessment from the American Association of Blood Banks [AABB] at a later date!)

The accreditation process entails a detailed assiduous inspection of all facets of the enterprise: direct observation of staff performance, documentation review and staff interviews. The CAP assessments are voluntary and the fact that LMP chooses to challenge itself with this intensive assessment shows our commitment to deliver world class care to all our patients.

During the summation, the representatives from the CAP team told us some great things about our laboratory:

  • “Everyone was so open and hospitable!”
  • “What we learned here we will definitely take back with us!”
  • “Staff were open, willing to share and willing to show us their work!”
  • “Lots of great things going on here – your laboratory service is outstanding!”
  • “The competency in flow cytometry is absolutely amazing!”
  • “I was very impressed, this is a really great group!”
  • “A pleasure inspecting the HLA laboratory – everyone, from the Directors to the technologists, were so willing to answer questions and interact with us!”
  • “I want to return to my own lab and implement some of what I saw here!”
  • “You have very high standards and do a great job in meeting them!”

After the summation, Dr. Chetty thanked the assessors “for their time and diligence” and that we will “take your comments to heart.”

Dr. Chetty also expressed his thanks to all the lab staff across LMP, and to recognize Dr. Sylvia Asa, whose medical leadership and vision enabled our team to be on such a strong footing and achieve such a stellar result. Well done to everyone across LMP!

LMP’s Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati makes headlines again with the Canadian Sports Concussion Project

May 13, 2015
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Dr. HazratiThis week, Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati, a neuropathologist in the Laboratory Medicine Program made headlines when her results from completing three brain autopsies for the Krembil Neuroscience Centre’s Canadian Sports Concussion Project (CSCP) were released.

The autopsies show the varying outcomes that can result in brains of former athletes who sustained multiple concussions, and included the analyses of former NHL player, Steve Montador, and two former CFL players, John Forzani and an anonymous donor.

The brains of both Montador and the anonymous donor showed the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a neurodegenerative brain disorder, while Forzani’s brain showed no evidence of trauma. Despite all three athletes suffering from multiple concussions throughout their respective careers, Dr. Hazrati now says, “certain individuals may be more vulnerable than others to developing CTE as a result of concussions.”

cbcimagetsnimageThe results support the need for more concussion research to determine the prevalence of CTE in the brains of former athletes.

“Collectively, these findings are an important step to further our understanding of what happens to the brain as a result of multiple concussions,” said Dr. Hazrati. “But we certainly need to continue studying this brain injury to determine who is likely to develop CTE, why and how we can help those who suffer from it in a meaningful way.”

TorStarimageThese recent findings bring the total of brains analyzed by the Krembil Neuroscience Centre’s CSCP to 16, with roughly half showing signs of CTE or the presence of another neurodegenerative disease.

This story also comes out just months after the Toronto Star’s article, 10 Torontonians to Watch in 2015, which featured Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati as, “A sleuth in the world of neurological disease.”

You can read more coverage on the findings of Dr. Hazrati’s research and the outcomes resulting from TSN, CBC and the Toronto Star – click on each image to read the story.

Dr. Peter Pisters Tours Laboratory Medicine

April 30, 2015
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DSC03929Recently, UHN’s President and CEO Dr. Peter Pisters got an in-depth tour of some of the clinical laboratory space within the Laboratory Medicine Program at the University Health Network.

Led by members of the Laboratory Medicine Program’s senior team, including Dr. Runjan Chetty, Brad Davis, Tom Clancy, Michele Henry, Laurie Mason and Dr. Suzanne Kamel-Reid, Peter visited some of our anatomic pathology and molecular genetics lab areas on the 11th floor of Toronto General Hospital.

At the top of the tour, Peter spoke with LMP’s Sarah James and Peter Faure, two of our Pathology Assistant’s, and heard about the strong relationship between our PA team and the pathologists, including the clinical value of surgical pathology and autopsy, as well as the continuing education, knowledge sharing and other team-led initiatives undertaken by the group.

DSC03938The tour moved along into histology and immunohistochemistry, and Laurie spoke to Peter about our volumes and complexity, and how the pathologists and technical staff work together for the patients, and the value this close collaboration adds to our program.

As the group moved along through flow cytometry and bone marrow, Laurie and Michele spoke to Peter about our role in laboratory partnerships throughout the province, across Canada and with our partnerships in Qatar and Kuwait. The group mentioned how our volumes and case loads allow LMP to perform certain tests that other laboratories might not be able to perform on their own due to differences in volume, so our size and scope allows us to serve as leaders in the world of lab medicine and forge and grow those partnerships.

DSC03950One particular area of interest on the tour was our molecular genetics area. Dr. Kamel-Reid walked Peter through the department, mentioning the hard work of all the team members and how busy everyone is, but also stressing the valuable, detailed and complex information that this area of the lab generates for patients and clinicians in order to help them make more informed decisions around care and treatment.

Rounding out the tour, the group stopped by the Electron Microscopy area of LMP and spoke to Peter of the strong, ongoing partnership with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. As our partnership continues to grow, along with our ongoing relationship with Lakeridge Health and our partner sites in Northern Ontario, more initiatives such as Electron Microscopy, digital pathology, and continuing education can be expected.

DSC03958A common theme throughout the tour was the value of the laboratory professional to patient care, as well as our focus on advancing personalized medicine in the clinical laboratory. Our team was able to demonstrate examples of positive partnership projects, the investments we’ve made in technology and digital pathology, the strong connections between lab areas, such as molecular with the rest of AP, and the role of LMP in having a global impact in the world of laboratory medicine.

The tour only included the 11th floor of TGH, but more tours for all the other areas of laboratory medicine are already being planned. We want to make sure Peter gets a chance to see all aspects of LMP and learn more about the value laboratory professionals in all disciplines play in patient care and how we all work together to provide a robust, comprehensive and complete diagnosis for the patient.

 

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Happy National Med Lab Week – A Q&A with Gabrielle Wolff, MLT

April 24, 2015
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2015-04-21 09.20.26National Med Lab Week is  April 22 – April 25, LMP always takes part in National Medical Laboratory Week – the annual celebration of our medical laboratory professionals who play a critical role in every aspect of health care.

From Tuesday through Friday this week we’ll be profiling a few of the different types of laboratory professionals that make up the Laboratory Medicine Program team. We’ve already met JenniferPow Lee, Shabnam Salehi-Rad and Deepa Binu – today we get to hear from Gabrielle Wolff in histology.

Read about Gabi’s role in the laboratory and the value she brings to patient care at UHN:

What is your position? I am a Senior MLT

What do you do here? I work in the Histology lab.

Why did you get into lab medicine? One of my aunts was an MLT and she used to take me to the lab every once in a while to see what she did. I always thought the lab was an exciting, interesting place where important work was done.

How did you get started at UHN? I was a student here.

What is your favourite part of the job? When pathologists come back to us and tell us that our efforts helped a certain patient.

What is the most challenging part of the job? Keeping up with the constant change.

What value would you say you add to patient care? I would say we help ease patient anxiety by delivering results in a timely manner. Patients are usually waiting to hear whether they have cancer or not and the wait can be extremely difficult for them.

National Med Lab Week is all about promoting the work of laboratory professionals – what do you wish people knew about the work that goes on inside the lab? I’d like patients to know that despite the limitations of resources we have to work with, we work very hard to get the results out as quickly as possible. We sometimes stay late, work through lunch and get up in the middle of the night to come in and get the work done on their samples so that they can either get their results or get on with their treatment.

Happy National Med Lab Week – A Q&A with Deepa Binu

April 23, 2015
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2015-04-22 13.45.23National Med Lab Week is  April 22 – April 25, LMP always takes part in National Medical Laboratory Week – the annual celebration of our medical laboratory professionals who play a critical role in every aspect of health care.

From Tuesday through Friday this week we’ll be profiling a few of the different types of laboratory professionals that make up the Laboratory Medicine Program team. We’ve already met JenniferPow Lee and Shabnam Salehi-Rad and today we get to talk with Deepa Binu from molecular genetics.

Read about Deepa’s role in the laboratory and the value she brings to patient care at UHN:

What is your position? Medical Laboratory Technician in Molecular Genetics

What do you do here? I receive, accession and process samples including blood, bone marrow, tissues and other body fluids for RNA and DNA based testings.

Why did you get into lab medicine? The medical profession is a noble profession as it is directly responsible for saving lives of people, which gives me lot of honor. It was my childhood dream to do something beneficial to mankind.

How did you get started at UHN? I started as a Volunteer in the Pathology Slide library, and later hired to work in the Pathology Research Program.

What is your favourite part of the job? I get to learn something new everyday and the work enviornment where I am surrounded by pleasant and intelligent people.

What is the most challenging part of the job? Handling the huge volume of specimens daily and prioritizing the work load.

What value would you say you add to patient care? Laboratory professionals provide services contribute to maximize the effective delivery of care by assuring that correct test is done on the right person at the right time.

National Med Lab Week is all about promoting the work of laboratory professionals – what do you wish people knew about the work that goes on inside the lab?  People mostly get to see what the front line nursing and medical staff do for them.   I wish  they could know more about what clinical laboratory staff do in providing the diagnostic information necessary to assist physicians in making the best decisions for a patients course of treatment.  This allows the patient to be treated at the most appropriate level of care for the most appropriate period of time. Without laboratory information, these decisions would be compromised at best.

Happy National Med Lab Week – A Q&A with Shabnam Salehi-Rad, MLT

April 22, 2015
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National Med Lab Week is  April 22 – April 25, LMP always takes part in National Medical Laboratory Week – the annual celebration of our medical laboratory professionals who play a critical role in every aspect of health care.

From Tuesday through Friday this week we’ll be profiling a few of the different types of laboratory professionals that make up the Laboratory Medicine Program team. We’ve already met Jennifer and Pow Lee, today we talk with Shabnam Salehi-Rad from cytogenetics.

Read about Shab’s role in the laboratory and the value she brings to patient care at UHN:

2015-04-14 13.27.23What is your position? I am a Cytogenetics Technologist working in the Cytogentics lab at TGH.

What do you do here? I look at karyotypes of patients to determine if there are any abnormalities within their chromosomes. Chromosomal abnormalities are consistently found in various types of cancers and I look to see if any abnormalities exist within these patients. I also score FISH (fluorescent in-situ hybridization) cases which is a test performed in the dark to determine if there are abnormalities within patient samples that could also mean the presence of cancer.  I am able to perform both the hands on laboratory work (wet lab) as well as the analytical part (dry lab) on the samples that come through our lab.

Why did you get into lab medicine? I was in research after I completed my university degree but I knew that was not for me.  I wanted to be in an environment where my findings made a direct impact on the treatment of a patient.  I also love working in a laboratory setting.  You are able to work as part of a team as well as have your own individual responsibilities.  In addition, my research background and interest was in genetics.  Therefore, with further training and education I was able to continue working in the genetics field but in a diagnostic setting.

How did you get started at UHN? I came to UHN about four years ago.  At the time I was living and working in Sudbury but wanted to find a job in Toronto, where I am originally from.  I applied for a job opening in the Cytogenetics Laboratory and was fortunate to get the position.

What is your favourite part of the job? My job allows me to take part in rotations within the lab. For example, for a couple of weeks I may be doing FISH scoring and then move on to FISH laboratory work or karyotyping. This gives me a chance to take part in most of the rotations within the lab and also provides me with variation in my job. In addition, I am and have been involved in a few projects that has allowed us to improve our laboratory workflow or introduce new tests.  This lets me take on new responsibilities and learn new things.

What is the most challenging part of the job? The most challenging part of the job is not to feel overwhelmed.  There are so many samples we deal with on a weekly basis for various different tests and we lack the manpower to take care of all of them immediately.  Therefore we have to prioritize cases, this sometimes causes backlogs and sometimes I feel overwhelmed because I want each patient to get a result as soon as possible.   However, I know that we are all working as hard as we can and we are doing our best to send out results as fast as possible.

What value would you say you add to patient care? Cytogenetics is a very specialized field and our results mean a great deal when it comes to patient care and treatment. There are times that our results will determine whether a patient will get a certain type of treatment or not and for this reason I as a cytogenetics technologist add value to patient care.

National Med Lab Week is all about promoting the work of laboratory professionals – what do you wish people knew about the work that goes on inside the lab? Most people don’t know much about the field of Cytogenetics.  I wish someone could give a short presentation on what kinds of tests we do and how that impacts a patient and the care they receive at UHN.

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