Children’s Minnesota is an award-winning, non-profit acute healthcare facility with clinics in the ‘twin cities’ of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. It has a combined capacity of almost 400 beds across its two major centers – along with seven rehabilitation centers and nine specialty care sites – and provides the largest and broadest range of specialist pediatric services across the entire region, from trauma care to management of severe chronic medical conditions.
An important team behind the scenes
The molecular laboratory at Children’s Minnesota plays an instrumental role in the functioning of the entire system, primarily providing PCR-based diagnosis of infectious diseases to direct clinical care. However, with the rise of the pandemic, the lab has had to restructure over the past 18 months to expand its in-house capacity for COVID-19 testing. Julie Laramie is one of a 16-strong lab team, and is responsible for expanding the lab’s ‘testing menu’. She explained: “Our lab quickly moved into community screening for children, as well as for some adult employees and patient families. This resulted in a high throughput for manual testing of up to 250 samples per day. At the time, we processed everything with single channel pipettes, which soon led to significant physical strain for some of our team, as well as ever-growing time pressures.”
A decision well made
“After deciding there must be a more efficient pipetting method, we looked for a cost-effective solution that could be implemented quickly in the middle of a pandemic,” Julie added. “INTEGRA Biosciences products were recommended to us, and so we invested in a number of six and 12 channel VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipettes, as well as single channel EVOLVE manual pipettes. As a result, we have been able to expand our workload very quickly, due to both the increased availability of equipment and the multichannel pipetting capabilities. INTEGRA’s customer service has also been very helpful, making us even more confident in our choice.”
Easing the strain
“The multichannel VOYAGER pipettes are well made and really user friendly. It is very simple to use the preset spacing options for pipetting between racks of different standard formats, allowing us to seamlessly move from sample extraction to amplification to detection. This reduces the total number of transfer steps by moving multiple samples rapidly in parallel, substantially shortening processing times. It has also decreased the number of errors compared to using a single channel pipette.”
Julie also highlighted how the pipettes have helped to alleviate wrist and hand pain associated with repetitive pipetting. She commented: “Some laboratory technicians were starting to develop RSI and, while multiple factors affect this, the ergonomic benefits of the multichannel VOYAGER pipettes play a major role in relieving this pain. The single channel EVOLVE pipettes were also a sensible addition in terms of RSI prevention, due to the improved ergonomics they offer. We now almost exclusively use the VOYAGER and EVOLVE pipettes for COVID-19 testing, and are considering increasing the number of these pipettes we have in our laboratory to benefit other workflows.”