New Zealand’s first hospital PC3 laboratory was officially opened in Christchurch today by the Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew.
CDHB General Manager of Hospital Support and Laboratories Trevor English says that the facility will provide the Canterbury health system greater capacity to cope with new and emerging threats, such as anti-biotic resistant TB bacteria, and highly infectious viruses and pandemics.
“The new lab is essentially a building, within a building. Its design will allow Canterbury Health Laboratories to handle micro-organisms that present a significant risk to laboratory workers, for example Mycobacterium tuberculosis and pandemic influenza virus,” says Trevor.
Trevor English says that the key to the building is operating under negative air pressure to help contain infectious organisms and having well trained staff operating by strict protocols.
Air leaving the laboratory is via a high-tech extraction unit, which contains a HEPA filter to remove any infectious micro-organisms, Trevor English says.
A Ministry of Health report in 2005 identified the need for New Zealand’s three main centres to have PC3 laboratories’.
“Given Canterbury’s earthquakes and the resulting disruptions to Canterbury’s health system, it is a great achievement that we are the first District Health Board to have our own PC3 Laboratory,” says Trevor.
As the first hospital PC3 lab to be commissioned, Canterbury Health Laboratories will be able to provide PC3 level laboratory services to the rest of the country. The lab will also be able to support overseas and New Zealand researchers with their studies in the increasingly important area of micro-organisms.
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