New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd recognized Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (April 21-27, 2013) by commending New Jersey's laboratory professionals who play a vital part in every aspect of healthcare, including medical diagnosisand public health prevention.
"New Jersey's laboratory professionals play a critical role in protecting the public health," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "Individuals working in hospital and commercial laboratories, as well as the Department's Public Health and Environmental Laboratory (PHEL), perform tests that ensure our drinking and recreational water is safe, detect and report disease outbreaks and respond to bioterrorism."
Recognizing that New Jersey's laboratory professionals are vital members of the healthcare system and public health team, Governor Chris Christie issued a proclamation proclaiming April 21-27 as Medical Laboratory Professionals Week urging New Jersey residents to support the vital services provided by laboratory professionals.
Each year, PHEL conducts more than 5 million tests for a wide range of microbial and metabolic diseases and chemical contaminants on a variety of environmental and clinical samples. PHEL data is generated in close collaboration with epidemiologists, local health officials and multiple state agencies, federal partners and healthcare providers who use the laboratory information to protect the public.
Some of the highlights of PHEL's work includes:
- The Newborn Screening Program annually conducts more than 4 million laboratory tests for metabolic and genetic disorders on every child born in the state.
- The Radio Analytical and Inorganic Laboratories work with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test the state's drinking water and the waters of Barnegat Bay to support Governor Christie's initiative to maintain this important waterway.
- The Biothreat Response Laboratory works with federal and state law enforcement agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to maintain operation of New Jersey Biological Safety Level 3 (BSL3) capabilities to test for potential biological agents that could be used in terrorist attacks. This includes agent such as plague, anthrax and ricin.
- The Microbiology Laboratory works with the Department's Communicable Disease Services to develop viral surveillance data on diseases such as influenza and West Nile Virus. Staff also tests food and clinical specimens in support of infectious disease outbreak investigations.