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CNB Medical: NJ Department of Health Recognizes Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

press release

( Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd recognized Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 19-25, by commending New Jersey's laboratory professionals are an essential part of every aspect of healthcare, including medical diagnosis and public health prevention.

"New Jersey's laboratory professionals play a vital role in health care and especially in protecting the public health, as we saw during the Ebola outbreak this past year," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "Every day medical decisions are based on data generated by laboratory professionals who work in hospital and commercial laboratories, as well as the Department's Public Health and Environmental Laboratory (PHEL). All perform important tests that help residents manage their chronic diseases, ensure our drinking and recreational water is safe, detect and report disease outbreaks, and work closely with local, state and federal agencies in responding to bioterrorism."

Governor Chris Christie issued a proclamation declaring April 19-25 as Medical Laboratory Professionals Week and asking New Jersey residents to support the vital services provided by laboratory professionals.  Dr. Onesia Bishop, director of the New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Laboratories, presented the proclamation at the American Association for Clinical Laboratory Science (ALCS) annual conference on April 16, on behalf of Commissioner O'Dowd.

Each year, PHEL conducts more than 5 million tests for a wide range of microbial and metabolic diseases and chemical contaminants on a variety of environmental and clinical samples. PHEL data is generated in close collaboration with epidemiologists, local health officials and multiple state agencies, federal partners and healthcare providers who use the laboratory information to protect the public.

Some of the highlights of PHEL's work include:

  • The Newborn Screening Program annually conducts more than 4 million laboratory tests for metabolic and genetic disorders on every child born in the state.
  • The Radio Analytical and Inorganic Laboratories work with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test the state's drinking water and the waters of Barnegat Bay to support Governor Christie's initiative to maintain this important waterway.
  • The Biothreat Response Laboratory works with federal and state law enforcement agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to maintain operation of New Jersey Biological Safety Level 3 (BSL3) capabilities to test for potential biological agents that could be used in terrorist attacks. This includes agents such as plague, anthrax and ricin.
  • Laboratory certified to test for the Ebola virus
  • The Microbiology Laboratory works with the Department's Communicable Disease Services to develop viral surveillance data on diseases such as influenza and West Nile Virus. Staff also tests food and clinical specimens in support of infectious disease outbreak investigations.