Various health care professionals work in our laboratory at North York General Hospital, providing high-quality lab medicine and care for our patients. Our laboratory professionals often work behind the scenes to help physicians diagnose and treat patients, as well as monitor and prevent diseases through laboratory testing, diagnoses and analysis.
Our full service laboratory at the General site enables us to provide approximately 1.6 million tests annually. An expert team of pathologists, technologists, technicians and pathologists' assistants serves our hospital 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These professionals provide diagnostic, screening and monitoring tests for inpatients, outpatients and long-term care residents. Approximately 100 highly trained individuals work in our laboratory and provide excellent care to our patients.
Medical laboratory technologists
Medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) are the fourth-largest group of health care professionals in Ontario, who perform complex procedures on tissue specimens, blood samples and other body fluids providing information to physicians. They work in all areas of our laboratory, including biochemistry, hematology, transfusion medicine, pathology and microbiology, as well as in Genetics labs.
At NYGH, MLTs work in the department of Laboratory Medicine, where they operate a variety of complicated and state of the arts instruments. They possess good motor skills, hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. In addition to technical skills, they employ attention to detail in order to detect subtle change to the microscopic appearance of blood, tissue and bacterial cells. MLTs also determine the validity of the results they obtain, which requires good analytical and critical thinking skills.
MLTs work in an ever-evolving environment, and on occasion need to design new procedures to reflect the rapid pace of change in their workplace. Whether working alone or as a member of a team, the MLT must be able to manage time efficiently and communicate clearly.
Medical laboratory technicians
Medical laboratory technicians, also referred to as medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) work alongside MLTs, but their day is focused on more of the prep work required for testing and diagnoses. MLAs are responsible for collecting blood and performing ECG; receiving and handling blood, tissue and other samples in the lab, logging samples and preparing them for testing. Also, MLAs assist in setting up, cleaning and maintaining laboratory and its equipment.
Pathologists' assistants (PAs) are highly trained laboratory professionals who work under the supervision of a pathologist, providing a broad range of services in anatomic pathology. Pathologists' assistants are primarily responsible for the initial examination and dissection of all surgically removed tissues and, in some cases, assisting with the dissection of bodies during autopsies.
MLTs and MLAs
In the Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act of 1990, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care defines a medical laboratory technologist and a medical laboratory assistant/technician as different roles in terms of education, experience and responsibilities.
We also have regional and provincial partnerships. Our laboratory partnered with The Scarborough Hospital and Toronto East General Hospital to create the Shared Hospital Laboratory, located in northeast Toronto that handles microbiology testing. This cooperative venture enables more efficient use of resources, sharing of expertise and improved testing and screening ability.
North York General has partnered with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Canada Lab Solutions for reference testing. Tests of high complexity and low volume are centralized to ensure high quality and cost effectiveness. An interface between the sites will ensure a rapid turnaround time for reporting results.
The hospital provides laboratory testing for Seniors' Health Centre (Buchan Court site), including the collection of samples. Our pathologists also provide expertise to some regional hospitals. Representatives from Laboratory Medicine are also members of regional laboratory steering committees.
Graduates of accredited programs for both medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants/technicians are eligible to write the national certification examinations conducted by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science, or the provincial certification exams conducted by the Medical Laboratory Professionals' Associaton of Ontario.
A medical laboratory technologist is a regulated health care professional in Ontario under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991and the Medical Laboratory Technology Act, 1991. After obtaining certification, a medical laboratory technologist must register with the College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Ontario to be able to practice in the province. Currently, medical laboratory assistants/technicians are not regulated professions in Ontario, but the College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Ontario is working toward having this important profession regulated in the future.