Spokane Journal of Business

Pathology lab consolidates Tri-Cities-area operations

Valley-based Incyte to have 38 employees in Richland

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Prospects of faster patient test results and streamlined corporate operations have prompted a Spokane Valley-based pathology services provider to open a laboratory in Richland, Wash.

Incyte Diagnostics has been working on a $1.6 million renovation of a vacant office building at 221 Wellsian Way, aiming for an Aug. 13 opening.

Incyte is leasing the building, with an option to buy, to create a centralized location to serve clinicians at Kadlec Regional Medical Center, and in Yakima and Walla Walla, Wash., and Pendleton, Ore.

“We can take advantage of all staffing at one location with better production, better cross training, and more efficient use of equipment,” says Gary Gemar, chief operating officer of Incyte Diagnostics.

Incyte also recently inked a contract with Kadlec to provide its histology services. Histology is the study of the microscopic structure of tissues.

Four couriers will be based at the Richland site; six others will work in the outlying areas to ferry samples to the lab.

The Richland office will have 38.5 full-time equivalent employees, with 27 existing staffers from Yakima, Walla Walla, Pendleton, and Kadlec.

The new lab also is adding eight new positions, including data entry, information technology and client services personnel, and a pathologist assistant.

Some employees will stay in their original locations to support operations in leased space within the hospitals, because they’re needed to perform rapid assessments and services during surgeries.

Incyte has a total staff of 289, including 42 pathologists.

Established in 1957, Incyte occupies about 27,000 square feet at its Spokane Valley headquarters, at 13103 E. Mansfield. The independent pathologist-owned company offers services in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Alaska.

Because the Tri-Cities is centrally located between Incyte’s labs in Yakima, Walla Walla, and Pendleton, it made sense to consolidate operations in Richland, especially after negotiating a deal to handle Kadlec’s histology operations, Gemar says.

Incyte had been serving Kadlec since 2003 with professional interpretation of specimens.

In addition to its lab work, Incyte contracts with hospitals to provide laboratory medical directorship and consultation services. 

Incyte hopes to develop a relationship with RCCH HealthCare Partners since plans have been announced that the Tennessee-based company wants to take over Trios Health, in Kennewick, Wash., and Lourdes Health Care, in Pasco, Wash., Gemar says.

“We would love them to be a part of this, but time will tell. It makes sense to have one processing center in the community,” he says.

Lourdes already contracts with Incyte for professional services, Gemar says.

Other savings Incyte will realize through consolidation include fewer annual proficiency and state inspections, a requirement at each individual lab. The distribution of the workload also will be improved, Gemar says.

The pathology team can review the day’s volume and distribute the workload equally. “That’s a huge thing because it’s really variable,” he says.

All this means faster test results for doctors and patients.

“We’re improving turnaround time on results. Less has to be sent to Spokane, more can stay here and the transportation is a really big deal. It slows things down,” Gemar says.

The process for reviewing the tissue samples is labor and time intensive, requiring a multi-step process once specimens arrive at the lab.

“Processing tissue is not a fast thing,” Gemar says.

Specimen information is input into a computer, then it’s dissected or bisected and put into cassettes for preservation and processing, which involves removing the fluids with a variety of chemicals that can take up to 10 hours, depending on tissue size.

Renovation on the 12-year-old Richland clinic, which used to be home to pain management and gastroenterology clinics and had been vacant for about two years, began in April.

The general contractor is Spokane-based Bouten Construction, which has a Richland office. NAC Architecture, of Spokane, designed the project.

One of the building’s unique features was a 2,112-square-foot badminton court with hardwood floors.

“The owners were from China and they have a real passion for badminton,” Gemar says, explaining the building also had a sports-themed bathroom and a room to restring rackets.

The racquet court has been split and turned into a histology lab and a tissue supply room.

Incyte opted to leave the court’s hardwood floor in the lab. Gemar also keeps a couple of the birdies—hundreds were left on the court—on his Spokane Valley desk as a keepsake.

An open house for the new lab is planned for the fall.

  • Kristina Lord

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