In appreciation of laboratory professionals, the few who serve many from the shadows.
The past year has been fraught with challenges unprecedented in our lifetimes. The coronavirus pandemic changed life as we knew it and has tragically ended more than 500,000 American lives to date.1 The impact on healthcare professionals has been unimaginable, and deservedly the heroism and steadfast work of these frontline healthcare workers is applauded as hospitals reach capacity and the number of patients soars. However, the well-deserved outpouring of appreciation has passed over a group of clinical professionals at the very heart of the pandemic.
Operating out of the public eye, clinical laboratory professionals perform an estimated 13 billion laboratory tests in the U.S. in a normal year,2 accounting for the single highest-volume medical activity in our country. The test results created by these highly skilled, dedicated laboratorians inform approximately two-thirds of all clinical decisions made by healthcare providers.3,4 Now, with COVID-19 mortality surpassing half a million Americans,1 diagnostic testing is more essential than ever, acting as the cornerstone of the nation’s strategy to beat the virus.
Since the start of the pandemic over 347 million molecular diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 have been processed in the U.S.5 Each of the molecular test results has relied on the knowledge of a laboratorian who worked tirelessly against personal risk, supply chain disruption and staffing shortages.
Despite this explosion in coronavirus testing, laboratorians must continue to address the myriad of other clinical diagnostic tests needed to provide patients with appropriate care. It is no wonder that lab professionals may feel exhausted.
We see you work tirelessly in discomfort wearing protective gear over 12+ hour shifts in order to safeguard yourself, family, and others. We see you acting as supply manager, instrument expert, and sometimes co-worker therapist—while attending to critical benchwork that takes a mental and physical toll. Indeed, you do your work from the shadows of healthcare, but the impact of your dedication to maintain the continuity of testing is immeasurable. In the simplest terms, you provide answers, answers inform treatment, and treatment offers hope. For that hope, we wish to express our deepest gratitude and respect.