Market Update

Alberta Health to Build New Lab to Serve Edmonton, Province

AHS selects site for multi-million lab facility expected to perform 80% of testing in Edmonton region

FOLLOWING YEARS OF CONTROVERSY associated with different plans to build a large new laboratory facility to serve Edmonton and the surrounding region, Alberta Health Services (AHS) will finance and build the new lab with its own resources.

Last month, the Alberta government announced that it will develop a new central laboratory that will process 80% of the clinical laboratory tests in the Edmonton region and become the central lab for a new system from Alberta Health Services to process lab tests in the province.

Currently, the province of Alberta has six different organizations providing clinical lab services, reported keith gerein for the Edmonton Journal. Having so many organizations involved in lab services results in a needlessly complex and fragmented system, said Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.

The decision to build the new lab ends uncertainty over lab services in the province that started in 2015, when Alberta Health Services was planning to sign a deal for $3 billion in Canadian dollars ($2.4 billion in U.S. dollars) to have a private company build a new lab and manage almost all clinical lab testing in the Edmonton region, gerein wrote.

Instead, Hoffman nixed the deal and set out to form a single, publicly-run lab services system for Alberta. As part of the plan, Alberta Health Services said it will assume control of the lab operations by 2022 from DynaLife, a private company that currently runs the province’s largest lab.

In 2016, Alberta Health Services agreed to pay $50 million in Canadian dollars ($40 million in U.S. dollars) to acquire DynaLife’s assets. In addition, AHS will become the new employer of DynaLife’s 1,200 clinical lab staff and management personnel.

Training and Research

In an article for the Edmonton Journal, keith gerein reported in December that a parcel of land near the University of Alberta was chosen as the site for the new lab. The facility is scheduled to open in 2022. In addition to processing most of the tests in the Edmonton area, it will also serve as a training and research center for innovations in diagnostics, gerein wrote.

Officials with Alberta Health Services estimated the cost of the facility will be about $325 million in Canadian or $260 million in U.S. dollars. To date, the provincial government has committed $20 million Canadian ($16 million in U.S. dollars) for planning, design, and site work over the next two years, gerein reported. Construction is expected to start next year.

Millions of patients’ specimens will be collected from throughout Edmonton and northern Alberta and brought to the new facility, said Michael Mengel, MD, the health service’s Clinical Department Head of Laboratory Services for Edmonton.

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