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Writing sample: Article for Dade-Behring all-employee magazine Klinikum Augsburg uses a significant amount of Dade Behring equipment so, when it was time to restructure the lab, the hospital turned to Horst Hammel, service engineer, for input. Hammel had been serving the hospital for more than two decades or – as he fondly puts it – “all of my life.” “Sometimes I feel like I’m going to friends, not customers,” says Hammel. “When the laboratory asked me what I would suggest, I had some ideas. Now I think the design is both theirs and mine.” The problem Since July 2002, more than 95 percent of the 3.9 million laboratory requests had been performed on five Dimension-RxL instruments. Four of them were located in the “core” laboratory and operated 24 hours a day, “more or less,” says Dr. Werner Behr who oversees the hospital lab. The fifth instrument, not part of that routine 24-hour schedule, is used only for special tests like HDL/LDL, HbA1 and microalbumin. In 1980, lab automates were still an exception, he explains, with the majority of tests performed on several smaller desktop instruments and, accordingly, laboratory tables and partitions were installed in the lab based on the needs of that time. However, with the limitations of those earlier structural conditions, it was only possible to install the four Dimension-RxL instruments side by side in front of a partition, making it difficult to dissipate the heat generated by the instruments. “The temperature in the summer could cause the temperature of the laboratory to rise to 27 or 28 degrees Celsius,” says Dr. Behr, “so ventilation around the instruments could only be improved by using ventilators and cooling devices. This arrangement also created a further deterioration of the room climate for the employees working on the instruments.” Another problem? “The connection from the work station, where incoming materials are centrifuged and distributed to the Dimension-RxL, was much too long,” he continues. The plan “We wanted to remove the bothersome partition so some space could be made to better position the instruments to facilitate short connections and quick communication between central sample distribution and the analyzers,” says Dr. Behr. The plan, he says, also included connecting the Dimension-RxL instruments via the ceiling to the power supply and EDP system to dissipate the heat. And, most critical, these modifications had to be completed with no disruption in the lab’s existing output of tests and analysis. To accomplish that, the entire clinical-chemical laboratory had to move 30 meters to a temporary laboratory for about five weeks. That meant that four Dimension-RxL instruments – including the water supply as well as other devices like osmometer, blood gas instrument and the comprehensive EDP equipment – had to be moved within 24 hours while maintaining full operational capability. When moving day arrived, the first Dimension-RxL instrument was taken out of service by Hammel and Stefan Alletter, another Dade Behring service engineer. An hour later, a second instrument followed. While the first two instruments were made ready for operation, the clinical-chemical analyses were continued on the lab’s remaining two instruments with no disruption in output. The following day, Hammel and Alletter moved the remaining two instruments to their temporary location. “Again,” says Dr. Behr, “full operational capability was achieved after a few hours.” The results “In the following weeks, there were short breakdowns, partly caused by overload of the electric network,” says Dr. Behr. “Horst, however, was able to resolve all problems without delay, so that the results of the tests were always available in time.” Not quite five weeks later, the new laboratory was ready, and the process of moving the instruments was reversed, returning them to their original – though reconfigured – lab location. Again, Dr. Behr was quick with his praise about the move. “This time, as well, everything went absolutely quickly and trouble-free. Given the excellent commitment and thoughtful planning by the two Dade Behring service engineers, there was no delay in the clinical-chemical analysis in any phase of this very risky undertaking. Even departments like the emergency unit, who are very sensitive to a delayed supply of test results, did not notice anything during this renovation.” The results? The time from receipt of material until release of the analytical values has improved, and doctors are provided with emergency results even sooner than before. Other earlier changes to the Dimension-RxL systems and related consolidation of the clinical-chemical laboratory had already shortened turn-around time from an average of 83 minutes to 71 minutes, which, says Dr. Behr, was acceptable considering the large number of requests – more than 60 percent from emergency testing. Following this latest reconfiguration, the turn-around time showed even more improvement, down another seven minutes to 64 minutes. “That means 90 percent of the clinical-chemical requests are ready and released by our laboratory after not more than 64 minutes,” says Dr. Behr. “This further decrease in turn-around time is not in the least owed to the fact that the instruments are excellently maintained and, if necessary, quickly repaired.” Hammel’s customer-service attitude is simple, but one he takes to heart. “If a customer has a problem, he comes to me and I take care of it. If it’s not my business, I take care of it as well. I follow up just to be sure it’s done, and stay with it until it’s finished.” Dr. Behr rates Hammel’s skills as “excellent,” in fact, he adds with enthusiasm, “magna cum laude.”
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