Death of superlab will leave patients with inadequate medical testing, lab techs say

Medical laboratories in Alberta are struggling to keep up with growing demand, warns a national organization representing medical laboratory technologists and assistants.

'Investment is absolutely critical ... as ultimately patients are left with the consequences'

Construction on Edmonton's superlab at the University of Alberta South Campus was halted in April after the province cancelled the project. The decision is straining medical testing in Alberta, say laboratory technologists. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

The recent cancellation of the Edmonton superlab will make it harder for patients to get medical testing in Alberta, warns a national organization representing medical laboratory technologists and assistants.

The poor state of medical laboratories in northern Alberta is creating serious gaps in service, especially in rural and remote communities, says the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science.

"Restrictions on physical space for our staff and equipment restricts Alberta's labs from running at their full potential," Joel Rivero, the society's Alberta director, said Wednesday.

"Investment is absolutely critical moving forward, as ultimately patients are left with the consequences of this decision."

Last month the UCP government cancelled plans for a $595-million superlab in Edmonton already under construction at the University of Alberta's South Campus.

The project would have consolidated medical laboratory services for Edmonton under a single roof and put it under the control of Alberta Health Services.

Lab workers are struggling to meet demand in finding adequate space for equipment to run without overheating, to sending samples to multiple locations for testing, the organization said.

"We are calling on the government to deliver facility investments across Alberta to increase the efficiency of current testing and deliver more results to remote communities for less," said Christine Nielsen, the organization's chief executive officer.