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 RESEARCH ARTICLE
CytoJournal 2013,  10:3

Constructing a modern cytology laboratory: A toolkit for planning and design


Department of Pathology, Division of Anatomic Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA

Correspondence Address:
Isam A Eltoum
Department of Pathology, Division of Anatomic Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1742-6413.107983

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Introduction: Constructing or renovating a laboratory can be both challenging and rewarding. UAB Cytology (UAB CY) recently undertook a project to relocate from a building constructed in 1928 to new space. UAB CY is part of an academic center that provides service to a large set of patients, support training of one cytotechnology program and one cytopathology fellowship training program and involve actively in research and scholarly activity. Our objectives were to provide a safe, aesthetically pleasing space and gain efficiencies through lean processes. Methods: The phases of any laboratory design project are Planning, Schematic Design (SD), Design Development (DD), Construction Documents (CD) and Construction. Lab personnel are most critical in the Planning phase. During this time stakeholders, relationships, budget, square footage and equipment were identified. Equipment lists, including what would be relocated, purchased new and projected for future growth ensure that utilities were matched to expected need. A chemical inventory was prepared and adequate storage space was planned. Regulatory and safety requirements were discussed. Tours and high level process flow diagrams helped architects and engineers understand the laboratory daily work. Future needs were addressed through a questionnaire which identified potential areas of growth and technological change. Throughout the project, decisions were driven by data from the planning phase. During the SD phase, objective information from the first phase was used by architects and planners to create a general floor plan. This was the basis of a series of meetings to brainstorm and suggest modifications. DD brings more detail to the plans with engineering, casework, equipment specifics, finishes. Design changes should be completed at this phase. The next phase, CD took the project from the lab purview into purely technical mode. Construction documents were used by the contractor for the bidding process and ultimately the Construction phase. Results: The project fitted out a total of 9,000 square feet; 4,000 laboratory and 5,000 office/support. Lab space includes areas for Prep, CT screening, sign out and Imaging. Adjacent space houses faculty offices and conferencing facilities. Transportation time was reduced (waste removal) by a Pneumatic Tube System, specimen drop window to Prep Lab and a pass thru window to the screening area. Open screening and prep areas allow visual management control. Efficiencies were gained by ergonomically placing CT Manual and Imaging microscopes and computers in close proximity, also facilitating a paperless workflow for additional savings. Logistically, closer proximity to Surgical Pathology maximized the natural synergies between the areas. Conclusions: Lab construction should be a systematic process based on sound principles for safety, high quality testing, and finance. Our detailed planning and design process can be a model for others undertaking similar projects






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