The BVI Health Services’ new laboratory, above, will be operational 24 hours a day, its manager said during an opening ceremony last week. (Screenshot: BVIHSA)

The BVI Health Services Authority’s watchword for the year is “change,” and a new and expanded laboratory launched last week embodies that goal, according to acting BVIHSA CEO Dr. June Samuel.

“We are moving quickly along at BVIHSA with multiple changes,” Dr. Samuel said during a Jan. 25 opening ceremony for the new facility, adding, “What you will see today will tell you how much we’ve changed and how we’ve come a long way.”

Lab manager Devye Nicholson spoke next, listing some of the services the new laboratory will offer, including testing for Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus.

“I’m so excited to speak about the HTLV, one of the most important tests when we are donating blood,” she said. “This is a test that we had wanted in house for the longest while.”

This service and others, she said, were made possible by equipment purchased through a recent donation of $45,000 from the Rotary Club of Tortola.

“We’re also excited to let you know that the blood bank that we wanted for the longest while is now in place,” she said, drawing applause from attendees. “Our 24-hour service is in place, but now we’re going seven days a week.”

Ms. Nicholson also said the new facility will improve and expand the intake of blood donations and increase blood storage capacity.

“In the past,” she added, “the majority of the specimens used to go overseas, but now everything will be done in house.”

More applause followed her announcement that the lab is pursuing accreditation. This year, she said, officials expect to receive an ISO 15189 2012 certification — an international standard for quality management system requirements for medical laboratories.

“The lab will be accredited, and we will keep our accreditation,” Ms. Nicholson said. “And the lab testing will be certified.”

The facility also plans to extend its services to other jurisdictions in the region, which is expected to earn revenue, she said.
BVIHSA Chairman Moleto Smith also spoke at the ceremony.

“There’s something special about this lab and the certification that it will receive this year,” he said. “It will be the first and only overseas territory lab that will be certified. That’s a big deal.”

Health and Social Development Minister Marlon Penn took the podium next, expressing his excitement about the expansion.

The ceremony ended with a tour of the lab.