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Minden Medical Center celebrates laboratory opening

Minden Medical Center’s laboratory department is finally getting some breathing room after years of being cramped into a small room with one blood-drawing station.

Following the grand opening and tour of the new facility, Cassandra Swan, laboratory manager, says the most important thing is better service to patients.

“We now have a state-of-the-art lab facility that will physically allow us the space to grow,” she said. “Our workflow will be more efficient, and what our patients will see is a state-of-the-art blood-drawing area.”

Previously, they could only draw labs on one patient at a time, and the new facility will allow them to work with two patients at a time as well as offer privacy they didn’t have before.

The laboratory also has a dedicated section for pediatric blood draws.

“Before, we had a basinet,” she said. “It met code, but it’s not state-of-the-art, and now it is.”

The waiting area across the hall from the former physicians’ offices is now two handicapped accessible restrooms, and health information management has temporarily moved to the third floor.

Minden Medical Center employees, elected officials and local dignitaries took part in the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new laboratory department. The public was given a tour of the facility before employees began moving equipment into the spacious laboratory. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald

What used to serve as the phlebotomy department will be renovated for the health information department, Swan said.

During the grand opening, the public was treated to a tour of the new lab, showing off its different departments, the spacious areas for new equipment as well as existing equipment and a subzero freezer, replacing the home-style refrigerators of the past.

Swan says the department began moving into the new facility following the grand opening.

Interim CEO Steve Selzer welcomed everyone, saying the opening of the laboratory is important.

“This is a very, very special day, because we, the average public, get to be back here,” he said, “and this is an area where we’ll never get to enter again unless you work here. It’s a special opportunity to get to see it.”

MMC’s CEO Emeritus George French III, says the project was a long time in coming and cost about $2.1 million to renovate in conjunction with the renovation of the old lab room.

“In the last 34 years, we’ve built a new ER, a women’s pavilion, a behavioral health unit, a rehab center, a heart center, nephrology,” he said. “We’ve brought in all these physician specialties, and yet today, I think the community can take great pleasure in the fact that we’ve taken a foundational department here, our laboratory, upon which all of these services depend to take and analyze and diagnose so we can let our doctors treat. That’s why we’re an acute care hospital. Without the lab, I don’t think we’d have a hospital.”

Since at least the 1970s, the lab has not been moved, and as they have added equipment and services over the years, equipment and staff have been stacked one on top of another, French said.

Members of the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Tommy Davis, city council members, Webster Parish police jurors, and other officials attended the ribbon-cutting and grand opening.

“On behalf of the city, I just want to say thanks to the hospital,” Davis said. “This hospital is very, very important to Minden, not just for our economy, but it affects our whole city. When the hospital goes down, the whole community goes down. When the hospital does well, the whole community does well. The hospital is doing well, which means the community is doing well. We’re glad that Minden Medical Center is here, and we’re glad for the investment they are making.”

MMC is celebrating 90 years of existence as well. The hospital opened Dec. 10, 1926, and still utilizes the original structure built as it has expanded and grown to what it is today.

Minden Press-Herald

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