Story courtesy Royal University Hospital Foundation

A simple test. It’s a routine procedure that happens hundreds of times a day at Royal University Hospital (RUH). But that commonplace test fulfills a far-from simple purpose. It is the first stage on a patient’s road to treatment.

Most patients arriving at RUH Emergency, Saskatchewan’s busiest emergency department, initially need tests in order to check out vital functions, diagnose a condition, rule out a disorder and/or designate treatment.

“The importance of Laboratory Medicine in the emergency department is that 70 to 80 percent of patients have lab testing done in some way, shape or form. It’s the lifeblood of our system,” says Judy Archer, Director of Laboratory Medicine for Saskatoon Health Region.

RR-2016-05-04-RUHF-labpneumatictubesContinued2Laboratory Medicine will be a beneficiary of donor support through the RUH Foundation’s $20 million Campaign for Emergency, Critical Care and Trauma. Donations to the campaign will save lives and improve the delivery of services for patients.

For Laboratory Medicine, this support from donors cannot come fast enough. “We are very grateful that the RUH Foundation is raising funds for new laboratory equipment,” acknowledges Archer. “Support areas such as laboratories are not always first in donors’ minds because we work mainly ‘behind the scenes’ in the healthcare system.”

The RUH Foundation is raising $560,000 for Laboratory Medicine to upgrade the pneumatic tube system that transports test samples from sites such as the emergency department to the lab at the other end of RUH. Donations to the campaign will help ensure the tube performs up to standards, enabling the critical samples to reach the lab safety and in a timely fashion.

RR-2016-05-04-RUHF-labpneumatictubes-Secondary“The current pneumatic tube system was installed in 1988, but since then the volume of tests has grown to the point where the system is now extremely over capacity. Today’s industry standard in hospitals is to have all patient samples sent form the patient-care unit within two minutes. Only 34 per cent of all samples currently make it to the labs within the industry standard time. Our present RUH tube system that is used 1,000 times per day, now has delays of 10 to 15 minutes during peak times in the day,” explains Dr. Fergall Magee, Department Head of Laboratory Medicine.

Consequences include longer turnaround times for results, cancelled tests, deterioration of specimens and staff frustration. There also is no defined maintenance program, which leads to excessive downtime and wear on the tube itself.

“The system needs an upgrade. Without it, necessary response to a potentially life threatening situation can be delayed by as much as 10 minutes,” Archer stresses.

“Improving the pneumatic tube system will be of benefit in all patient-care areas of the hospital, particularly Critical Care and emergency department areas that depend on rapid laboratory support to make medical decisions and improve patient flow,” Dr. Magee adds. This means faster results which, in turn, mean faster diagnosis.

RUH Foundation is committed to raising $20 million by 2018 to expand RUH’s existing emergency department; attract and retain world-class researchers, physicians and medical staff; invest in the newest technology, equipment and programming to meet critical and trauma care priorities; and provide $5 million for the new Adult Emergency Department, that will open in 2019 in the new Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan.

RUH Phlebotomy Supervisor Leslie Rea and the entire Laboratory Medicine staff are thankful for donor support, indicating that “An upgrade to our current system will most definitely affect patient care in a very positive way.”

To find out more about how to support the RUH Foundation’s Campaign for Emergency, Critical Care and Trauma, please contact Lisa Laskowski RUH Foundation Director of Development, at 306-655-6530 or donate online at