Some people were waiting three to five hours in line for their blood work to be done at DynaLIFE laboratories this week. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer blood labs working to ease long lineups

Callbacks and texting being considered to alert patients their turn is coming

Red Deer’s blood work laboratories are looking at ways to ease frustrating line waits that have extended for hours for some clients.

People waiting outside the DynaLIFE laboratories told the Advocate earlier this week that even those with previously booked appointments were waiting 1 1/2 to three hours to get their blood work done.

Those without appointments were waiting up to five hours.

Some who need lab work done quickly because of upcoming surgery, or other reasons, have had no choice but to stand in line because appointment dates are not available soon enough.

On Friday, the earliest blood work slots available at DynaLIFE was July 15.

Much of the delay is due to pandemic health restrictions that limit the number of people who can sit in the laboratory’s small waiting room.

Demand at DynaLIFE also increased because the Alberta Precision Laboratories lab at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre temporarily stopped accepting out-patient and walk-in patients to reduce the chance the COVID-19 virus spreading inside the hospital.

Hospital in-patients and emergency patients can still receive lab services.

Alberta Health Services says DynaLIFE and Alberta Precision Laboratories are “exploring new tools and strategies to manage additional patient loads as services start to resume…”

Patients might be met by greeters, who can explain their options, which might include callbacks or text messages to let people know when their turn is coming up.

Also, now that health restrictions are being eased, the hospital lab will begin resuming blood collections from out-patients in the next few days.

“We expect this will help alleviate the strain on the DynaLIFE collection site caused by the temporary COVID-19-related closure,” says AHS in an email.

DynaLIFE has been contracted by Alberta’s health system to provide community lab services for decades.

The hospital’s lab is run by Alberta Precision Laboratories, a wholly owned subsidiary of AHS.

Health-care facilities and other essential services must still adhere to physical distancing guidelines and other measures designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“These guidelines can be difficult to manage in waiting and collection areas that were never designed with physical distancing in mind.”

“Additionally, cleaning collection spaces between patients, and screening patients for symptoms before their appointment, does impact how quickly patients can be moved through the lab.

“This is a matter of balancing convenience for patients with their safety and the safety of our staff.”

To help reduce the pressure on labs, local doctors have also been asked to only order lab work necessary for their patients’ immediate care.

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