Signature Health recently opened a new clinical laboratory in Willoughby that provides comprehensive testing and analysis.
Dr. Nancy Rodway, director of laboratory services and primary care, occupational and environmental physician, said the lab opened in late January and offers many benefits to the community.
Rodway, who is also the Lake County Health District medical director and a board-certified pathologist, said the lab will have a positive impact on the addiction crisis.
“We’ve been doing primarily drug testing, but we are using state-of-the-art drug testing instrumentation which is liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry and what that instrument does really is it identifies the footprint of the drug,” she said. “So I can within approximately 24-hour turnaround get a specimen of urine or blood and tell the ordering provider exactly what was in there.
“We’ve been open now for two weeks and we’re seeing some scary stuff in the urine because we test for 55 analytes. We see a lot of fentanyl, we see a lot of heroin we see some cocaine.“
Signature Health received funding from the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board to purchase some of the lab equipment.
The advanced lab equipment allows lab results ordered STAT — immediately to manage medical emergencies — to be obtained in only 30 minutes.
“A need for a rapid result is most important in suboxone treatment, because you want to be sure that if you’re prescribing suboxone to someone, they’re actually taking it,” she said. “So we want to be sure it is actually in their urine and we want to make sure they are not taking other substances like benzodiazepine, which can cause a serious reaction.”
The laboratory is crucial to entire multidisciplinary team.
“It really is helping the addictionologists and counselors to really see what is in their clients’ systems,” Rodway said. “When we can show a patient exactly what drugs are in their system, it has an impact.”
Although drug screens have been a priority, the lab is equipped and will soon offer a range of testing services.
“We will be doing hematology, immunology, chemistry and some microbiology,” she said. “Forty percent of diagnoses in primary care are based on lab tests, so we will soon be able to do standard liver tests, diabetes tests, kidney tests — we will soon be able to do all the standard primary care testing on-site here.”
Rodway says the lab will make it possible to also collect community data.
“We hope to be able to use the data that we’re gathering not only to help each individual, but also to create new interventions and new programs to impact the community as soon as we can,” she said. “What a perfect venue to impact the community not only in a time of public health crisis, but also to provide a very unique approach to health and health care. It integrates behavioral health, addiction medicine, primary care and laboratory medicine.”