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COVID puts strain on hospital lab employees in Western New York

Five fully qualified, state-certified lab technologists originally from the Philippines will become permanent staffers at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — With the significant increase in COVID cases, our local hospitals and the staffers are feeling the strain.

The impact extends to various areas of hospitals and even hiring decisions.

We've heard a lot about the dedication and heroic efforts of doctors and nurses with the COVID cases. But there is another group of workers at Erie County Medical Center and other local hospitals who are really under pressure as well.

Dr. Sam Cloud who is one of the Associate Medical Directors at Erie County Medical Center says, "Lab workers have been some of the unsung heroes in this."

Lab techs at ECMC and other hospitals handle some of the most crucial elements of care. That's even if they're not at a patient's bedside, and Dr. Cloud says they've been there from the start because, "Coronavirus meant that we had to invent an entire new testing process that didn't exist in March."

Of course private, commercial labs have also picked up the slack now with all the forms of testing available. But Cloud points out there have been plenty of long hours and stress for the hospital lab's employees.

"The lab has been scrambling, constantly trying to get supplies and laboratory tests. It's been a real struggle for our laboratory workers," Cloud said. "And to have do all this extra testing in addition to all the testing you have to do normally in a hospital which is tremendously complex and time consuming, so the lab workers, I really tip the hat for our laboratory workers here at ECMC. They have really come through for us during this pandemic."

And just like lab material supplies, qualified lab technicians in this age of COVID are in high demand. Alexander Collichio is the Vice President for Human Resources at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

He says: "Hospital lab testing staff right now, there's a shortage in the industry so everybody is looking at different avenues to bring them in."

Five fully qualified and state-certified new lab technologists who are originally from the Philippines will be coming aboard as permanent staffers at the Niagara Falls hospital. The facility will help with their immigration visas for the hiring process. 

Collichio adds: "It's a great success story. These individuals coming to this country are certified and providing a valued service that we need in this community and that we don't have a good supply of here." 

Credit: NFMMC

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