Dynacare has taken over all diagnostic labs that do blood and urine work — except for those in hospitals — in the city of Winnipeg.
The company bought out labs previously owned by Unicity Laboratory and X-Ray Services and now owns 63 diagnostic labs across the city.
Thirty-five Unicity employees were laid off and 21 sites were closed in the changeover. Dynacare also hired 47 former Unicity employees in the process.
Elysa Patterson, 58, found out about it on Dec. 12, when she went to the Unicity Lab connected to her doctor's office on Pembina Highway. She needed to get blood drawn for her weekly tests, but the lab was closed.
She returned when it reopened on Dec. 15 as Dynacare, with all new equipment and some of the same staff.
"Before you make a decision like this, you'd think there'd be some notice, some preparation," she said, adding staff told her they found out just over a week before.
She said the senior citizens in the lab's waiting room were confused and upset, because they'd been told they had to go back to their doctors to get new requisitions for their blood tests.
"Those patients were very rattled, very upset, couldn't get a hold of their doctors, didn't know what to do, and one guy just left, because he didn't want to contact his doctor."
Spokesperson Andrea Price said Dynacare locations across the city are now collection sites; specimens are sent twice daily to a lab in St. James for interpretation and next-day reporting. If a level is "critical," lab staff will notify physicians the same day, she added.
Dynacare is a Brampton, Ont.-based company with 200 locations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario. According to its website, it offers blood collection, urinalysis and ECGs. It bills Manitoba Health when services are not covered by insurance. The company's medical director is Dr. Jenisa Naidoo, who is based out of Manitoba.
Patterson said she used to rely on the same-day service with Unicity, because her blood test monitors how fast her blood clots. Her doctor adjusts her anti-coagulant medication based on the results. Now, she says she worries about blood clots, because the past few visits, she hasn't been getting her results the next day.
"I find it unacceptable that in today's world that all of a sudden somebody comes along and tells us that we have a monopoly for a centre gathering our blood work and dealing with our healthcare in such a way."
'Good news story'
But according to Price, the takeover of Unicity is a "good news story" for Winnipeg.
"In the past decade, Dynacare has developed a strong reputation as a leader in the provision of lab services in Winnipeg," she wrote. Several Dynacare labs have been up and running in Winnipeg since 2008.
The company opened a "state-of-the-art" lab in 2013, according to Price, and uses "leading-edge" technology for its diagnostics.
Price said physicians at all clinics were notified of the change via email on Dec. 5, and posters have been up in the sites too to inform patients.
Price declined to reveal the purchase price of Unicity.
Consolidation of sites
Patients are now being referred to the Dynacare website for updated collection locations. Price declined to give the list of closed Unicity sites so as not to deter traffic from the doctors' offices they were connected to.
"These locations were identified based on areas where duplication [of] services exist and where we can provide an improved customer experience at a larger location with more staff," stated the memo sent to physicians on Dec. 5.
Dynacare has seven other labs in the province of Manitoba. The CBC visited three of the sites in Winnipeg on Tuesday and found no lineups at any of them.
Patterson said her service with Dynacare is as caring and empathetic as it's always been, because it's the same staff, just fewer of them.
We initially reported that Dynacare took over all diagnostic labs and X-ray services in Winnipeg outside of hospitals. In fact, Dynacare took over all diagnostic labs outside of hospitals that do blood and urine work.Jan 19, 2018 9:44 AM CT