Medical Needs Fund Purchases Advanced Lab Equipment

Munson Medical Center staff with new microbiology lab equipmentA young patient hospitalized with pneumonia at Munson Medical Center appeared to be improving and his physician planned to send him home in the morning. At 1 am, two of his blood cultures tested positive for bacteria, an indicator that he could have sepsis, a serious blood infection.

The physician did not believe the patient was septic, but was reluctant to send him home after positive culture results. Thanks to new cutting-edge technology in Munson Medical Center’s microbiology lab, a technologist used an instrument that identified both cultures as harmless bacteria within 20 minutes.

Previously, it would have taken the lab two days to grow the cultures to identify the bacteria. As a necessary precaution, the patient would have remained in the hospital and been given powerful broad spectrum antibiotics, which can set a patient up for further complications, including C. difficile disease. The patient was spared two days of additional hospitalization on IV medication he didn’t need, and went home as scheduled.

Philanthropy Made it Possible

The new Vitek Mass Spectrometry instrument uses Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization – Time of Flight (MALDI-TOF) technology. The purchase of this equipment was made possible by generous contributions to Munson Healthcare Foundations.

Technologists in the microbiology lab say it has completely changed their work. Now, rather than using costly and time consuming biochemical to identify bacteria, they use the instrument for rapid identification. Up to 48 patient specimens can be analyzed on a single slide at once, with results for all 48 delivered within 60 minutes. Additionally, E. coli or Salmonella cultures that used to take three days to grow and identify are now identified in about 24 hours.

Game-Changing Technology

“I wish I could tell the donors how much difference this makes for the patient,” said Medical Technologist Anne Gore. “This technology is a huge game changer. When it’s something that’s good for patient care – you get very excited about it.”

The technology is still very new. Most major research hospitals have it, but only the Cleveland Clinic has a system similar to the one at Munson Medical Center. Our Information Systems personnel overcame major issues to allow technologists to access results directly from computers at their work stations. This ability eliminates two steps in the manual data entry process where errors could occur.

Previously, if our microbiologists were unable to identify a bacterium, it would be sent to the Mayo Clinic lab or Michigan Department of Community Health. This process would take several weeks. “We don’t have to send anything out for identification anymore,” Gore said. “So far MALDI has not let us down. Also, since we no longer use many reagents to identify bacteria, it’s a cost savings measure.”

How it was Funded

Each year, Munson Medical Center leaders review all requests for new technology and equipment. Only a portion of those requests can be funded through operational revenue. “The Foundation board also reviews the list and selects a project for funding that will have a direct impact on patient care because donors want to know they are making a real difference in someone’s life,” said Des Worthington, Munson Healthcare Foundations President.

Learn More 

To learn how you can help, call 231-935-6482.