main hospital building at night


The hidden professionals who support direct patient care


Have you ever wondered who conducts the laboratory testing ordered by your physician and analyzes the results? How about those who identify an antibiotic resistant infection like Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), or which antibiotic is required to save someone's life, or whether or not someone has cancer, or who conducts specialized testing for genetic disorders?

Medical Laboratory Technicians/Technologists and Pathologists are the ones who provide laboratory testing and results to physicians so they can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

These individuals are out of the limelight, but they perform vital work by helping to inform life-and-death decisions every day.

The laboratory at Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) is operated by the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA), who are a member-based, non-profit organization managing 18 licensed, acute-care, hospital-based laboratories that support clinical programs in Eastern Ontario's Champlain Region.

The team of more than two dozen staff members in the EORLA lab at CCH collect and analyze tissue, blood, and bodily fluid samples from patients to help diagnose every health condition from cancer to COVID-19. Their multi-disciplinary lab analysis and diagnostic skills are essential to every patient’s healthcare diagnosis.

The laboratory at CCH is mostly hidden from patients and is relatively unknown to the general public. Here you won’t find hospital beds or waiting rooms, but you will find various biomedical instruments, microscopes, equipment and materials for performing different laboratory activities and tests, and a team of staff clad in white lab coats working diligently to analyze samples around the clock.

More than 650 tests are processed every 24 hours at the EORLA lab at CCH for various departments including dialysis, chemotherapy, pharmacy, emergency, and multiple other clinics in the hospital. Everything from complete blood cell counts, venous blood gases, glucose levels, etc., are processed at the lab to help inform diagnosis and treatment plans for physicians and care teams.

“There is a true sense of teamwork as we work so closely with all departments, ensuring we are providing physicians and care teams with accurate results to administer appropriate treatments,” says Jessica Adams, Senior Medical Laboratory Technologist in Biochemistry. “The lab plays a big role in making sure CCH can provide exceptional patient care; there truly is nothing more rewarding.”

Tucked away in a corner office of the lab at CCH is a pivotal physician in our community, Dr. Neil Davis, a pathologist who largely goes unseen by patients but plays an important role behind the scenes.

As a pathologist, Dr. Davis studies fluids, tissues, or even entire organs taken from the body, and analyzes these items to diagnose illness, monitor ongoing medical conditions, and to help guide treatment. For instance, the vast majority of cancer diagnoses at CCH are made by, or in conjunction with, Dr. Davis.

“As a pathologist, I am a consultant to other doctors. Our diagnosis is an important aspect of the management of a patient’s disease. Patient history along with physical signs and symptoms are vital, but most diagnoses need confirmation that only laboratory tests and pathology reports can provide,” explains Dr. Davis.

“Sometimes my reports contain good news, and sometimes it’s unfortunately bad news, but every specimen, every glass slide, every written report represents a patient with a family, a home, a history, hopes, and dreams. It is extremely humbling. Knowing that I'm directly touching so many lives is what drives me every day. I’m fortunate to be spending my career serving this wonderful community, and am honoured to be part of such a thriving department, caring for our patients together as a team,” adds Dr. Davis.

National Medical Laboratory Week takes place from April 10 to 16. This week shines a spotlight on laboratory professionals and their passion to provide the highest quality service to healthcare and it is a well-deserved recognition week. Please join me in recognizing and thanking our local medical laboratory professionals for playing such a vital role for our patients at CCH and across the healthcare system.