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metro lab on Davenport's East Locust

Metropolitan Medical Laboratory, with locations throughout the Quad-Cities, is being bought by a national company with an accompanying loss of local jobs. This is the location at 1828 E. Locust St., Davenport.

Metropolitan Medical Laboratory, a long-standing, privately held Quad-Cities company is being sold, a deal that will put at least 136 employees from the Moline location out of work, Chris Mather, of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said.

Metro is being purchased by Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, known as LabCorp, one of the largest clinical laboratory networks in the world, headquartered in Burlington, North Carolina, according to its website. The deal is expected to close around April 1, according to a letter to patients announcing the sale.

Representatives from Iowa Workforce Development did not immediately return calls asking whether additional employees from the Iowa location on Davenport's East Locust Street would be laid off.

In 2015, MetroLab employed more than 400 people, according to its human resources officer.

LabCorp is not releasing employment information publicly, Donald R. Von Hagen, the company's vice president for corporate communications, said.

LabCorp will retain Metro Lab's six locations — two in Davenport and one each in Moline, Bettendorf, Silvis and Rock Island — but for the thousands of patients who use Metro Lab annually, check-in will be different.

Computer tablets will be installed at each location, with walk-in patients asked to scan in their driver's license, or state-issued ID, their name, address and phone number and insurance information — work that is now done by a human receptionist.

A human will be available to help "as needed, when they are not providing specimen collection services to another patient," according to an email from Von Hagen.

Patients also can enter their information electronically ahead of time from a smartphone, tablet or computer — a personal photo as well as photos of one's driver's license and insurance card — and, upon arrival, scan one's driver's license or QR code to let staff know of one's arrival, according to the LabCorp website.

Testing of samples designated by doctors as needing a rapid response will continue to be done in the Quad-Cities.

Other testing will primarily be performed in Kansas City, Missouri, and also at other specialty laboratories around the United States, Von Hagen wrote.

Turn-around time should be the same or better, he said.

Regarding insurance, "LabCorp is in-network for every major national insurance plan, and most of the regional and local health insurance plans in our area, which may result in lower out-of-pocket costs for your lab tests," according to the patient letter from Metro Lab.

In addition to the six Metro Lab locations, patients can go to LabCorp’s two existing centers in Davenport, located at 5359 Eastern Ave. and 3400 Dexter Court, Suite 305.

Help for workers

Of the Moline employees losing their jobs, more than 60 attended meetings this past week in Rock Island at the American Jobs Center to help them in going forward, Mather said.

They were provided with information on how to file for unemployment benefits, help in writing resumes and job-searching and on the availability of re-training programs and scholarships, she said. Information about how to apply for emergency help to meet rent or utility payments also was available.

History

Metropolitan Medical Laboratory dates back to 1914 when Dr. Frederick H. Lamb, a pioneer in developing pathology as a medical specialty in this country, established a practice of anatomic and clinical pathology serving hospitals in Davenport, Moline and Rock Island, according to the Metro Lab website.

From a small suite in the former Davenport Bank Building, the laboratory expanded in 1958 by moving to Kirkwood Boulevard in Davenport.

In 1972 the laboratory moved to its present Iowa location at 1814 E. Locust St., Davenport. Anatomic and Cytology (a branch of science dealing with cells), outpatient and billing facilities were expanded there in 2000 with a second building.

The Illinois campus of the laboratory began in 1976 with a location at City Line Plaza in Moline where a microbiology culture media center also was established.

In 1983, the laboratory moved to the Metro Towers Building at 1520 7th St. where three additional buildings were constructed in the next decade.

Since 2010, Metro Lab has expanded to include sites in Silvis, Rock Island, and Bettendorf.

LabCorp is not buying any of Metro Lab's buildings, LabCorp's Von Hagen said in an email.

Metro served thousands, employed specialties

Metro has built a large reach in the Quad-Cities; according to its human resources officer, in 2015, Metro "performed more than 1,600 different tests, providing 3,500 ordering clients with more than 5.4 million test results for 230,000 patients seen per year." This information was contained in an article by Terry Masek in Healthy Cells, an online magazine.

On its website, Metro Lab speaks proudly of its workforce, saying it employs "qualified, caring and talented Quad City residents."

The site also notes that Metro bills almost three million tests annually and that "98 percent of all tests ordered are performed locally, and the rest are sent to quality laboratories such as Mayo."

"What does this mean for Quad-City residents?" the website says. "A whole lot of expertise right in your own back yard."

Pathologists currently on the Metro Lab board, according to its website, are James K. Billman Jr., William W. Hoover and Paula Youngberg Arnell.

In addition to eight pathologists, the doctors who evaluate tissues and cells under a microscope to determine whether or not disease is present, other jobs at Metro Lab are, according to the Healthy Cells article:

• Cytotechnologists, who prepare specimens for microscopic examination, then evaluate the specimens for signs of abnormalities;

• Histologic technicians who prepare slides from tissue sections;

• Medical technologists/medical laboratory scientists/clinical laboratory scientists, who perform medical chemical laboratory tests, procedures, and analysis;

• Phlebotomists, who obtain and prepare specimens for analysis;

• Specimen processors;

• Couriers;

• Client service associates;

• Patient service associates;

• Insurance claim specialists;

• Medical transcribers; and

• Systems analysts.

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