New laboratory equipment for Comox Valley Hospital serves to increase overall healthcare capacity

It’s no secret that our healthcare system is stressed.

Working with healthcare leadership, Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation is fundraising to support initiatives that will help increase capacity in healthcare, support staff retention, and encourage recruitment of healthcare workers.

From sophisticated medical equipment to training programs and comfort items, the Foundation’s mission to raise funds to enhance quality healthcare in our community is needed more than ever.

One piece of equipment that tops the priority list and that serves the broadest patient population is a new Hematology Analyzer for the lab at the Comox Valley Hospital, a machine that allows lab technicians to count and identify blood cells at high speed with accuracy using best-practice methodology.

Hematology analyzers test Complete Blood Counts (CBCs) which measure white blood cell count to detect infections or leukemia; hemoglobin to assess if someone needs a blood transfusion; and red blood cell count for anemia. CBCs are one of the most frequently ordered tests in laboratory medicine.

Throughout every stage of life, laboratory tests are part of overall health and disease management. For many people, their first lab test occurs immediately after birth as part of new-born screening to diagnose conditions like jaundice or inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

The Comox Valley Hospital Laboratory runs just over one million individual lab tests per year with equipment that requires routine maintenance, and like all departments at the hospital, is managing increased demand with decreased staffing levels.

“The quality and efficiency of lab tests contribute significantly to the care we provide patients in the hospital,” explains Dr. Laura Matemisz, an Emergency Room physician at the Comox Valley Hospital. “When we triage in the emergency room — depending on the medical concern — we order diagnostic lab tests. If we can reduce the wait for lab results and move toward doing more types of lab tests locally, we’ll increase the number of patients we’re able to see.”

Laboratory tests provide critical information which help doctors in providing quality care for their patients. Approximately two-thirds of all medical decisions are directly or indirectly informed through results from laboratory tests.

Given the cornerstone role of laboratory services, state-of-the-art equipment in the lab also helps to attract healthcare workers to the Comox Valley. Innovative technologies help staff work effectively and efficiently contributing to job satisfaction and staff retention, which is crucial during a workforce shortage.

“When we invest donations in leading medical technology, we do more than purchase equipment, we invest in each other, in our community,” says Bill Anglin, President of the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation. “Time and time again we see the positive impact donors have on healthcare in the Comox Valley.”

Since 1993, the Comox Valley community has accomplished a lot together through the Foundation whose mandate expanded in the last five years to include non-profit long-term care, community healthcare, and acute care at the Comox Valley Campus of the North Island Hospital.

Highlights from last year include a brand-new fleet of orthopaedic arthroscopic biters and graspers for the Operating Room. These fine-detailed biters and graspers support minimally invasive surgery, meaning that patients have less intrusive surgeries to their joints with smaller incisions, quicker healing times and less trauma to the tissues. In long-term care, a special project funded by donors will adapt residents’ interior doors to mimic the exterior doors of a home, creating a sense of community and helping residents identify their own rooms to increase privacy and safety. In community, a new Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Project to improve brain health and quality of life for people who have mild to moderate dementia has been launched thanks to a generous donor who gave in memory of his wife.

Together, we can make things better.

Feel inspired to donate to the hematology analyzer or another local healthcare priority? You can donate directly through the Foundation’s website or call 250-331-5957. Another immediate and fun way to get involved is to register for this Friday’s Golf Classic which includes the Work Hard Play Hard 50/50 drawn later in the evening (June 24). The 50/50 is open to the public and tickets can be purchased online. BC Gaming License #131986.

Article originally published in the Comox Valley Record on June 20, 2022