Labs squeezed for staff to meet COVID-19 testing demand

Augusta University Medical Center in Georgia has given raise to laboratory workers and brought in contract laboratory scientists to assist alleviate the need for COVID-19 testing, but the hospital said it still does not have the personnel to sustain the present screening need, The Wall Street Journal reported..

The increased demand for COVID-19 tests is worsening long-standing staffing lacks at labs around the nation, the Journal reports..

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Much of the 23 technologists working on COVID-19 screening in the healthcare facilitys lab work overtime running tests and getting supplies, trying to keep test turn-around times low, and some workers have actually even delayed retirement, the Journal reports..

There are about 337,000 scientific laboratory technologists and service technicians working in hospitals, public health and industrial laboratories in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2018, the American Society for Clinical Pathology reported a typical job rate in U.S. medical labs of 8.6 percent, up from 7.2 percent the year before, according to the Journal..

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Labor scarcities in screening labs have existed for several years due to aspects including low recruitment, an aging labor force and relatively low spend for lab technicians and technologists compared to that of other healthcare employees with similar education requirements. In 2019, the mean annual wage for scientific laboratory technologists and professionals was $53,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The skills needed for laboratory employees also are typically specialized and not easily moved from other fields..

In August, 58 percent of laboratories stated staffing was an issue, up from 35 percent in May, according to a survey from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry mentioned by the Journal..

” You may be able to do it for a couple of weeks or days, now were going into months and months, and theres no end in sight,” Brandy Gunsolus, medical professional of medical lab science at Augusta University Medical Center informed the Journal. “We do not have the staff to sustain it.”.

Maia Anderson –
Tuesday, October 13th, 2020
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Labor lacks in testing labs have actually existed for years due to factors consisting of low recruitment, an aging workforce and reasonably low pay for lab technicians and technologists compared to that of other health care workers with similar education requirements. In 2019, the average annual salary for medical laboratory technologists and professionals was $53,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. © Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2020.