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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Hospital Foundation were greeted with exciting news Monday morning. Two new pieces of lab equipment were installed, allowing for workflow improvements in the heart of Northern Health diagnosis. Funding for the Histo Tissue Processor and the Paraffin Dispenser came from Shell Canada and the participants of Bluey Day 2019.

The Histro Tissue Processor is a critical instrument in the diagnostics and handling of patient tissue samples. Tissue Processing is described as the removal of fluids from the tissue cells and replacing it with a sanitary paraffin medium that allows the sample to be thinly cut and examined.
Cell and Tissue samples are analyzed in the lab to look for cancers or disease. Samples may be collected from body fluids or organs through a procedure called ‘biopsy’. A biopsy is the removal of a sample of tissue or tumor from the body for examination under a microscope. There are a variety of ways to study samples. Some cases focus on the cell structure, while others the focus is on the genes inside the cells.
After a patient receives their biopsy, the Tissue Processor is the first step in the diagnostic process. The lab technologists place samples in a vacuum chamber that allows for the complete infiltration of stabilizers. With over 3000 specimens already processed in 2019, this new automated tissue processor will maximize efficiencies in the laboratory, speeding up the turnaround time to provide a quicker diagnosis and which in turn improve a patient’s treatment and care.
This equipment purchase was made possible by those that participated and donated through the Bluey Day Event. All proceeds were allocated to the foundation’s Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Fund. It also ensures the Foundation can meet both the long-term and emergent needs of our hospital as our medical staff works on early diagnosis and treatment of patients with cancer.

On behalf of myself and the Laboratory team, we would like to graciously thank the Foundation for their dedicated efforts in raising funds for these vital pieces of equipment. This new equipment will be put to good use to provide high quality specimens for testing and diagnosing.

Tara MitchellFort St. John Hospital Lab Manager

Following the stabilization process with the Histo Tissue Processor, samples will make their way to the Paraffin Dispenser.  The lab technologists will take the still delicate samples and using the dispenser, embeds them into a mould or ‘block’.  Once the wax blocks cool, the samples have the needed structure to begin section cutting using the microtome.  This new paraffin dispenser will provide simple and precise control; resulting in improved quality, a smooth workflow, reliability and speed in the lab. Alongside the processor, this equipment carries out the first steps in a diagnosis.  The new machines are allowing previous equipment to retire after aiding the North Peace labs since 2001.  Shell Canada provided a generous donation of $20,000 to help purchase of the Paraffin Dispenser.