Val Verde Regional Medical Center Laboratory staff

Members of Val Verde Regional Medical Center Laboratory staff include, from left, Maricela Calvetti, Robert Chambers, lab supervisor; Sandra West, Katrina Bernal, Abigail Hort, Rudna Delfin, Kay Gonzaga and Rodney Pagan. Not pictured are Diane Ayres, Charmayne Benally, Lica Esparagoza, Mariela Faz, Joshua Flores, Irene Frigillana, Kristina Garcia, Paul Hubahib, Priscila Olivo, Michael Ostrea, Alex Rodriguez, Rosa Rubio, Daritza Siller and Jan Sinay.

Val Verde Regional Medical Center Laboratory has earned high marks from its accrediting agency.

Robert Chambers, Val Verde Regional Medical Center director of laboratory services, said the lab performed exceptionally well on its most recent inspection by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), VVRMC Laboratory’s accrediting agency.

“The results of VVRMC Laboratory’s inspection were 14 deficiencies out of the 2,900 checklist items. We were found to be in compliance with 99.5 percent of the standards,” Chambers said.

“This is a big achievement for the VVRMC Lab, ensuring we are operating in compliance with CAP standards, which in turn ensures that we are providing the best quality laboratory services to our patients,” he added.

Chambers said the VVRMC Lab, which employs 25 persons, is responsible for all types of specimen testing.

“We have machines for various areas, disciplines in the laboratory, and we do everything from counting cells of your blood to growing bacteria and speciating what type of bacteria you might have,” he said.

Chambers said the lab also tests blood types and determines antibodies in case someone needs a blood transfusion.

“We’re the ones who make sure that it’s compatible. We also do various blood chemistries, we do urinalysis, any time a doctor says they need to run a test, that comes here, and if we can’t perform the test in this lab, we will send it out to a larger one,” Chambers said.

Chambers said the accrediting agency is not a government agency, but has been given authority by government agencies to provide accreditation to make sure that laboratories operate in compliance with OSHA, the FDA and other agencies.

Chambers said the lab is inspected every two years.

“We’re inspected by a peer lab, so other laboratorians are the ones who inspect us. They know what to look for, and on our off year, we go and inspect other laboratories,” he said.

“CAP does a great job of organizing all that. For instance, you don’t go and inspect a lab that inspected you. You never inspect the same laboratory twice. They keep everything separate so that you’re always getting new inspectors,” he added.

Chambers noted inspectors are required to go through a training course and are given a checklist to fill out in the lab he or she is reviewing.

“The checklist entails everything you could think of from a lab perspective: policies and procedures, that these things have been reviewed by a pathologist, who is a doctor of laboratory, essentially; that he or she has signed off and reviewed the different procedures that we perform,” Chambers said.

He noted improvement and safety checks are also a big part of the checklist.

He said CAP includes more than 500 pathologists that review the checklist, which includes some 2,900 individual items.

“They’re reviewing them, revising them and adding new checklist items every year, so every inspection, there’s a lot of revisions and there’s new checklist items,” he said.

“This is ensuring that we are operating, not only in compliance with the government, but that we are continuously improving and that we’re offering the highest standard of quality that can be offered to our patients. We’re ensuring that everything we do is being done safely and it’s really the gold standard of laboratory care to do a great job on your CAP inspection,” Chambers said.

“It’s a reassurance to the patients and their families that we are striving to provide them the best and most accurate service possible,” he added.

CAP, he said, not only strives to ensure quality testing, but works to make sure labs are “moving and bettering themselves constantly.”

“It’s a great way to assure that every lab that’s a CAP-accredited lab is up-to-date on the latest best practices,” he said.

Chambers said he is proud of the most recent inspection results.

“We had a great inspection. This is definitely the best outcome that I’ve seen in my career,” Chambers said.

Chambers has been the director of laboratory services at Val Verde Regional Medical Center for since February 2018. Prior to coming to Del Rio, he worked in Waco, Texas.

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