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College of American Pathologists laud Ellsworth lab

Airman 1st Class Danielle Woodcock prepares to draw some blood Dec. 19 from Donna Haugh, age 10, daughter of Master Sgt. and Mrs. Peter Haugh.  Airman Woodcock is a medical laboratory technician assigned to the 28th Medical Support Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.  The lab recently was accredited by the College of American Pathologists  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Nathan Riley)

Airman 1st Class Danielle Woodcock prepares to draw some blood Dec. 19 from Donna Haugh, age 10, daughter of Master Sgt. and Mrs. Peter Haugh. Airman Woodcock is a medical laboratory technician assigned to the 28th Medical Support Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. The lab recently was accredited by the College of American Pathologists (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Nathan Riley)

Airman 1st Class Danielle Woodcock loads a vial of blood into a centrifuge, a device that separates materials of different density.  Airman Woodcock is a medical laboratory technician assigned to the 28th Medical Support Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.  The lab recently was accredited by the College of American Pathologists  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Nathan Riley)

Airman 1st Class Danielle Woodcock loads a vial of blood into a centrifuge, a device that separates materials of different density. Airman Woodcock is a medical laboratory technician assigned to the 28th Medical Support Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. The lab recently was accredited by the College of American Pathologists (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Nathan Riley)

ELLSWORTH AFB, S.D. -- The College of American Pathologists recently accredited the medical laboratory here after a fine-toothed comb inspection examining everything from needles and giant rubber bands all the way to each of the more than 1,000 processes involved in maintaining a lab.

"(The CAP) actually goes through each and every one of our records to make sure we're doing things right," said Major Padilla.

This accreditation by the CAP should not be taken lightly, according to Major Padilla.
"Both military and civilian (labs) go through this accreditation," she said. "Basically, what it means for Ellsworth folks is the quality of lab testing they get here is of the same quality they'd get downtown."

Major Padilla said the accreditation occurs every two years and that keeps her laboratory technicians busy as they're constantly looking for ways to improve how they do business.

This arduous inspection raises the stakes for some already busy Airmen.

"Our (laboratory) techs here do more than most techs do," Major Padilla explained. "They draw blood, prepare samples for shipment for reference laboratories and do in-house things like cholesterol (screening) and some micro-biology as well.

"We probably see around 50 to 70 customers per day."

Taking care of the customers is just the beginning for the technicians here.

"(Lab technicians) help with quality-control reviews and are actively involved with end of the month procedures," Major Padilla added.

Despite working in a very busy laboratory, the importance of the accreditation was not lost on the personnel who work there daily.

Airman 1st Class Danielle Woodcook, 28th Medical Support Squadron medical laboratory technician said, "The accreditation means we can stay open; we still have a job."

Another aspect of the accreditation was not lost on Airman Woodcock, although on the surface it may not be as tangible.

"I learned a lot about my job (from the accreditation process) that I didn't know before," she said.

Major Padilla explained that while she is still awaiting the official notification of the medical laboratory's accreditation, she does know the inspector was very impressed with the facility and the processes she and her staff have in place.

For more information on the College of American Pathologists visit http://www.cap.org/apps/cap.portal.