Lab leaders look back on pandemic challenges

Last Modified: 4/27/2021


Some of the areas of the hospital that were impacted most by the COVID-19 pandemic, were the ones that exist behind the scenes. Our laboratories are a great example. They are constantly working to collect samples and provide answers so that our care teams can deliver the proper course of treatment. The past year brought new challenges and greater demand, but these team members rose to the challenge. Tricia Denton, director, Allen County Labs, Parkview Health, and Lisa Daniel, director, Corporate Lab Services, Parkview Health, reflect on how they came together to overcome obstacles triggered by the virus and the vital role of teamwork.

Approximately how many coworkers serve in Parkview laboratories?

There are around 470 team members.

What were some of the unique challenges the Lab team faced in the past year?

We can say that we’ve never experienced change at the rate and intensity that we did over such a short period of time. There were many challenges, but some of the biggest were:

  • At different times, it was difficult to find COVID tests to run on the platforms that we already had in the lab. We struggled to find places we could send COVID tests (that had capacity) until then.
  • So many companies came out with COVID testing this year, very quickly. We spent a lot of time distinguishing which ones had the quality that we could stand behind.
  • Vendors moved a lot of their production to strictly COVID testing, so there were a number of tests that we routinely run that we could not get enough reagents for. We had to quickly find an alternative or send testing out, which required us to shift internal processes.
  • Staffing shortages due to COVID leave.
  • There was a nation-wide plastic shortage which affected many consumables that we purchase to use in testing.
How did Parkview Labs adjust to meet new and changing demands related to COVID?

We really had to get creative and be resourceful. While we adjusted in many ways, some of the changes that stand out include:

  • Our staff worked shifts and areas that they may not have normally worked.
  • We had to think differently about a lot of our testing, especially during periods of time when we couldn’t run some of the tests we normally run.
  • We had to communicate and educate our team constantly to keep staff and providers up to date on changes.
  • We created a Lab COVID Testing Committee that included executives, physicians and CMOs. This committee decided on the testing we would use, how it would be used and helped create the testing algorithms used by the entire organization.
  • When we couldn’t find enough collection swabs from our usual vendors, we had to start buying them from many other companies. We used the Pharmacy team’s clean room and made up our own swab collection kits. Our staff spent hundreds of hours searching for swabs and saline and then putting them together into homemade kits in the clean room.
  • We had to put other projects on hold for 2021 while we focused on bringing in COVID testing and validating the new instrument in record time. We wanted to be able to take care of our community and improve the turnaround time for our patients.
What did you notice in your team members during this challenging time?

We noticed exceptional teamwork, throughout the whole year. We saw it between lab departments within the Parkview Health system, as well as with other departments in the hospital. Staff from other locations jumped in to help when we began testing for the Indiana State Department of Health. Addressing the pandemic really was a system-wide collaboration. We worked with so many other leaders and staff; co-workers we don’t normally cross paths with.

We saw team members, who were exhausted (physically and mentally), just keep pushing. We needed to take care of our co-workers and our patients and so we just couldn’t stop.

We all became more flexible and accepted that we couldn’t control everything. That’s not how we normally operate! It was very uncomfortable for us. Laboratorians are perfectionists who like to plan ahead. The constant shortages and changes created a great deal of stress.

Staff who were not doing COVID collections recognized and celebrated our phlebotomists. It was very heartwarming to walk out and see notes of encouragement in the phlebotomy area.

How would you describe the Lab team members and what makes them so exceptional?

Where do we begin?

Our staff members are exceptional at their jobs because we are all proud to take care of our patients. We are proud to give the providers accurate results and help them diagnose and care for everyone who comes to Parkview for help.

These accurate results start with our phlebotomists who are the face of the lab.

It includes our processing staff that process the millions of specimens a year that come through our doors.

It continues with the laboratory scientists, histologists and cytotechnologists who have trained for years to test these specimens.

It includes our pathologists.

It includes our Client Response Center, with team members who answer all of our clients’ questions, including our client service representative who educates and connects with any client that needs our help.

It includes our Lab Information Systems team who keep our computers doing what we need them to do to get and share results.

It includes our specialists who are experts in their areas and who the entire hospital system looks to when there are questions in those areas of laboratory testing, billing, compliance or accreditation.

It includes our Point of Care team who all of the nurses work closely with to stay proficient at bedside testing.

It includes our Sendout team who process and track the specimens we don’t run in-house and send them to our reference labs. It includes our education department and our nationally accredited Parkview Medical Laboratory Science Program.

It includes our leadership team at every facility and, last but not least, it includes our administrative and department secretaries who run our big ship.

What are some of the big lessons you and your team members will take away from this past year?

We all needed each other to make it through the changes this pandemic introduced. We couldn’t have done it alone or in our own silo. Parkview is filled with smart, hard-working co-workers in every department and area.

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If you are interested in joining the Parkview Lab team, text "Parkview" to 97211 or view our open positions at

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