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(Feature provided by GNBS)
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Medical Corps provides services to soldiers, staff of the GDF and their families. In 2007, the Force opened its own clinical laboratory providing basic tests to those in need.
In 2008, Ms. Bonita Richards joined the facility as the Head of the Laboratory and began working towards improving the services of the GDF Medical Corps. Recognising the need to be in conformance with the National Standard for Laboratories, the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) was contacted.Shortly after,with the guidance of the GNBS and the help of other designated laboratory staff within the Force,the process began to implement the requirements of the National Standard – General requirements for operation of a laboratory (GYS 170:2009).
“When providing a service, you’ll have to ensure that your service is of a standard andis ofquality,” Ms. Richards said. The Laboratory Supervisor recalled that at first, the implementation process was challenging as she had to work along with soldiers who were required to conduct their other duties while working in the laboratory.
In the Laboratory’s first assessment,21non-conformances were identified. However, with external assistance over a period of eight years, those were addressed, and the second evaluation done in 2017 unearthed only four non-conformances. Upon fixing those issues to align with the requirements of the National Standard, the GDF Medical Laboratory was certified by the GNBS in January 2018.
Despite the challenges encountered and the time taken to comply with the standard, Ms. Richards lauded the GNBS for its patience and cooperation. “The Bureau worked with us because we had to get a lot of help to go back into the system and see where we were and what needs to be done. I commend the Bureau,” she noted.
Even now, Ms. Richards admits that it is an ongoing process to constantly improve the systems and services at the facility. Moving from basic Haematology and Microbiology, the laboratory is now also certified to conduct Serology and Biochemistry.
With certification, she noted that “we can attest that the services we are providing here are up to the National Standard and are for the betterment of our employees here and others who have access to the laboratory services. The plus side though is that personally, I can say we have achieved, and we continue to achieve more based on what we want to get done.”
The Certification Services Department of the GNBS recertified the GDF Medical Laboratory on January 19, 2022after successfully meeting the requirements of the GYS170 National Standard. The facility was also presented with a plaque for its continued commitment to upholding quality. Additionally, two Certification stickers were presented by the GNBS Team to the laboratory,and these were placed at the entrance of the facility. Proud that their services continue to improve, Ms. Richardsis encouraging other clinical and testing laboratories to pursue Certification with the GNBS. “Once you meet a Standard, it tells you that you’re doing something good; that you’re providing a service that you know is of the quality,” she said.
Laboratory Certification increases clients’ confidence in the services offered by the certified facilities. It can also be used as a steppingstone towards achieving international accreditation.