Lab Matters Fall 2016 - Page 33

member spotlight Carol Hannah processing TB specimens Virtually all of the laboratory’s services are performed on behalf of other county programs, including over 40 ambulatory clinics located throughout the jurisdiction. Ventura County Public Health Laboratory Director Denise Von Bargen Success Stories • When measles was detected in California in 2014—and eventually linked to Disneyland—the Ventura County laboratory performed measles testing “every single day for three months,” ultimately testing more specimens than any other laboratory, except the county laboratory that serves the Disneyland area. Two years before the outbreak, Von Bargen, then a bench scientist, trained at the state public health laboratory and implemented the testing protocol in Ventura County. She said, “The cost of waiting even an extra day or two for [measles] test results would have led to more infections.” • In August 2015, the laboratory identified norovirus as the agent responsible for an outbreak that affected over 100 customers and employees of a Simi Valley Chipotle restaurant. • The laboratory participated in a multi-year study to improve water quality testing in the Ventura County watershed, coordinated by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Since water is such a critical issue in this drought-stricken state, laboratory data were crucial to inform state water policy. Salvador Barragan prepares ocean water samples for testing • In June 2014, the Ventura County Health Care Agency became the first health department in The Golden State to achieve accreditation through the nonprofit Public Health Accreditation Board. Challenges With a modern facility and strong administrative support for the laboratory, Von Bargen cited only two current challenges. First, she said, “We have a hard time finding microbiologists. We’ve had to resort to training them, because we can’t find them, despite our good weather.” Second is difficulty buying new laboratory equipment: “It’s very expensive.” Goals • Fully implementing the laboratory information system (LIS). In 2013 the laboratory switched from the Meditech to the Cerner LIS because of its reported ease-of-use with high-volume instrumentation. However, connecting the LIS to the instruments has been a challenge. “I’d like to get it done,” said Von Bargen. • Transitioning to molecular beach water testing to enable same-day results reporting and beach postings, if necessary. The laboratory is in the process of inter-calibration with partner public health laboratories to assess the use of quantitative PCR using human fecal markers. • Bringing onboard the CDC Zika MAC-ELISA for IgM antibody capture. Cameron Chandler processing blood for HIV testing PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org Fall 2016 LAB MATTERS 31