New laboratory opens at St. Mary’s Hospital

St. Mary's opened a new lab filled with new equipment and tools on Wednesday, replacing the original 50-year-old lab.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 8:25 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - St. Mary’s Hospital opened its newest medical laboratory this week, crammed full of new tech and tools. The old lab was originally built in 1973 and was about 6,000 square feet smaller.

The new laboratory opened Wednesday and was one of the final phases of a project that has been in development since 2019, costing a total of about $52.8 million. The project also included a new pharmacy and an add-on to the existing building.

One of the several purposes of the new lab is the quick, automated upload of patient results. “If you look at the average time per test, that’s an important part of getting information back, particularly in the ER. Time is significant there,” said President of Saint Mary’s Hospital Bryan Johnson. “I think the average time-per-test saved is about five minutes. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you multiply that by 2 million tests, which is what we do in this lab per year.”

Doing the math, that’s about 10 million minutes of patients’ time saved.

In addition to new automation systems, the lab hosts a wide range of diagnostic equipment. “We’re going to continue to do all the blood work, all the blood transfusion work, all the anatomic pathology, which is when anyone has any sort of surgery or any sort of biopsy, we’re going to continue to process all that right here in this new facility,” said Dr. Tera Marshall, Medical Director at Saint Mary’s Hospital.

The hospital does not issue bonds or new debt from it, instead pulling money comes from reserves. “That is important for our community, that we’re taking dollars that we’ve made over the years and reinvesting them back into this community as part of this program,” said President of Saint Mary’s Hospital Bryan Johnson.

Both Johnson and Marshall mentioned that Saint Mary’s has one of the most efficient and advanced labs from Denver to Salt Lake City. Johnson hopes that the money saved because of the new lab could be invested in as-of-yet undetermined future projects.