COVID-19 lab testing at LHSC surpasses 1 million mark


Serving people across southwestern Ontario, the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PaLM) team at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has surpassed a notable milestone, processing more than one million COVID-19 tests to-date. PaLM – a joint venture of LHSC and St. Joseph’s Health Care London - first began COVID-19 lab testing within LHSC’s microbiology program on March 18, 2020 to help add capacity to the provincial laboratory testing system and better support the needs of the people and public health units in the southwest region.

“As a team, we’re not just proud of the throughput we’ve accomplished, we’re also proud of what that represents,” says Dr. Mike Kadour (PhD), Chief Laboratory Officer at LHSC. “Behind every test is a person that is waiting on critical information about their health. Our work not only provides that health data in a timely manner to individuals, it also helps to inform at an aggregate level, important public health decisions aimed at ensuring the safety of our broader communities. To have made that kind of contribution more than a million times feels particularly meaningful for us.”

The hospital-based laboratory first began processing COVID-19 test swabs with a modest goal of building from an initial 50 tests per day volume to 3,000 tests per day. Today, the labs have the capacity to process up to 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day, while regularly meeting a 24-hour turn-around time for COVID-19 testing results. PaLM also performs routine variant of concern screening on all samples that test positive as part of its COVID-19 lab testing services.

“Reaching this milestone would not have been possible without the dedication and effort of many people across PaLM, Facilities Management, Healthcare Materials Management Services (HMMS), and Information Technology Services,” says Kadour. “The innovation, expertise, and adaptability within our teams has truly resulted in the delivery of exceptional service to our communities during this incredibly challenging time.”

Fun facts about the 1M milestone:

  • It would take nearly 200 years of normal seasonal influenza testing volumes to reach an equivalent of 1M tests performed
  • If we laid out the swabs tested end to end, they would reach from London to Windsor, or from London to Owen Sound – two of the many communities that PaLM is serving with COVID-19 testing

PaLM provides a comprehensive range of routine and specialized testing and clinical consultation for patient care within southwestern Ontario and beyond. Through the pandemic, PaLM has expanded its regional collaboration to include seven public health units, long term care/retirement home operators and primary care providers. This collaboration of professionals, technologists, leaders, ITS team members, support staff, and vendors is the true success of achieving new levels of testing for people in our region.