State Public Health Lab Seeing Increasing Demand
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) joins the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science in recognizing National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW), April 18-24, to celebrate the work of laboratorians. The theme this year is “Laboratory Professionals Get Results.” The employees at the DHHS Public Health Lab (PHL) perform a great and needed service to the people of New Hampshire, and recent events have required the Lab to perform tests in ever-greater numbers. All laboratorians in New Hampshire, including hospital lab workers, are part of the response to public health events.
With the flu pandemic, the PHL went from testing 577 specimens during the 2007-08 season to 2,447 during the 2008-09 season and 2,345 so far during the 2009-10 season. With rabies, the number of specimens has grown in the last few years from 491 in 2005 to a high of 608 in 2008 and 543 in 2009.
Recent events, including the gastrointestinal anthrax case and the tritium testing due to the leak at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, have highlighted the critical service the PHL performs. During the anthrax investigation at the United Campus Ministries building in Durham, the PHL analyzed 95 samples during two rounds of testing. So far tritium testing related to Vermont Yankee in 2010 the PHL has involved 97 samples, which includes those performed regularly in New Hampshire near the plant and additional river water samples to determine if the leak had reached the Connecticut River.
“Our job of responding to public health events would be immeasurably more difficult without the exceptional and dedicated employees in the Public Health Lab and all the capabilities it has,” said Dr. José Montero.
“It has been an unusually busy time of late, and the laboratorians have definitely risen to the challenge of running all the necessary tests and putting in extra hours.”