MSH Heroes

The Lab Team

The Lab Team

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, it’s fair to say that everyone working at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) was forced to respond. A big challenge facing the staff in the laboratory was the need to test for the virus. Previously, such microbiological testing was done off-site, and it could take a day or two to obtain results. This was no longer acceptable.

“COVID-19 impacted everyone in the hospital, and everyone worked very hard to give the best care,” says Lorna Saenz, who works as a charge technologist in the lab. She is one of about 50 people staffing the lab— and this year, in recognition of their dedication, the entire team has been recognized as MSH Heroes.

There are two main jobs in the core lab. The lab technicians are the folks who obtain samples from patients; the lab technologists then test and analyze the samples. The onslaught of COVID-19, says core laboratory manager Mohamed Bhugun, required the lab to expand its microbiology testing capabilities — and do it fast.

He credits the MSH Foundation for moving quickly to raise the necessary funding from generous donors to buy the analyzers required for PCR testing.

“You don’t just turn it on and it works,” he says. “You need space for the equipment, the staff must be trained, validation and calibration… all of this needed to be done, during the restrictions of a lockdown.”

To their credit, and with much support, the lab team got it done.

“It was exhausting and stressful; we didn’t know what to expect,” says Lorna. “It’s very hard to plan for the future, when you really don’t know what’s coming. But you step up because patients are on the line. And you do your best.”

Both Lorna and Mohamed are, of course, grateful for the recognition bestowed upon the lab team. And they are quick to point out that their work is bigger than any individual.

“As a society we have a collective responsibility to examine what duties we have put on health care workers during this pandemic,” says Lorna. “This is about patients. It’s about service.”

Spoken like a true hero.

Article from

Fall 2022 Healthy.Together. Your Giving in Action newsletter

Thank a special doctor, nurse, volunteer, hospital staff or everday hero who made a difference