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Lenexa, Kansas lab launches automated microbiology line

A team flipped a switch this week to turn on the highly anticipated automated microbiology line at our Lenexa, Kansas lab. It’s part of a larger automation project for the full lab featuring automated Copan® equipment similar to what is used in our Clifton, NJ and Marlborough, MA labs.

“It feels great to be in our new space and seeing the microbiology line in action,” said Tamara Melton, Supervisor, microbiology. “In anticipation of the launch, this team switched locations within the lab, worked around ongoing construction, and had a whole lot of training and we’re ready to go.”

She said that the Lenexa microbiology team’s 34 colleagues work across 3 shifts, handling a wide range of products, from bacteriology and TB testing to fungal testing. Tamara also praised Tasha Thilking for so expertly coordinating the launch as Project Manager. Lenexa is the first site for Copan and within Quest Diagnostics to go live with 100% of the micro volume and with all Copan modules on Day 1 of go-live.

“Now that we’ve launched the new automated line, it feels like we’re walking into a whole new world,” said Zane Riccio, set-up lead for the microbiology tech group. “I’m really looking forward to learning new things and using the automation to help resolve issues more quickly and easily. To be such a big part of the installation is both gratifying and exciting.”

‘Critical to creating a healthier world’

According to Miranda Keith, med tech II, Microbiology, the rollout has been a long time coming “because I know they’ve been talking about it before I joined Quest in 2021. It’s been fun getting involved and I was named the Change Champion for our department, which meant extra change management training and seeing firsthand how Microbiology at the Clifton lab does it and bringing that back to our team.

“In the long run,” Miranda said, “the automation is going to really help our patients because we can focus on what needs to be focused on, meaning we can get them even more accurate results­—faster, which is critical to creating a healthier world.”

Meanwhile, staff training with the National Laboratory Operations team continues as Lenexa prepares for the next phase.

“In the end, it all goes back to quality,” Tamara added. “Our quality is amazing, but with the new technology, our quality is only going to get better in all areas of this lab.”