Lab associates working hard behind the scenes / Health First

Call them the silent heroes behind closed doors.That’s how Health First’s System Laboratory Director Cathy Rodriguez describes the associates working inside Space Coast’s largest clinical laboratory.

“People don’t realize how involved we are in their health care, playing an important role in the prevention and diagnosis of disease” said Rodriguez. “Our lab results guide more than 70 percent of medical decisions.”

An impressive operation that she has overseen for years, Rodriguez was born at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center and grew up always wanting to become a Health First healthcare hero.

Since she oversees and is responsible for all of the Integrated Delivery Network’s (IDN) laboratory functions, “I know the ins and outs,” she said.



It’s the “outs,” however, that make the IDN’s network of laboratories cutting edge – and the largest on the Space Coast, embracing robotics and modern technology to deliver high quality and reliable results.

The IDN laboratories pump out over 4 million tests per year, and the main laboratory at Holmes Regional, located on the first floor, performs over 2 million tests per year, Rodriguez explained.

Holmes Regional’s laboratory is a full-service lab, consisting of the following:


  • CORE Lab: This entails chemistry, hematology, urinalysis, coagulation and toxicology
  • Microbiology: Only one for the entire IDN and is housed at Holmes Regional
  • Blood Bank: Supplies blood for the entire IDN
  • Pathology/Histology/Cytology and Transcription
  • Support Services: Specimen processing, phlebotomy, reference laboratory testing, customer service
  • Laboratory Administration
  • Point-of-Care Testing

The other laboratories are located at Health First Medical Group, Health First Cancer Institute, Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital, Health First’s Palm Bay Hospital and Health First’s Viera Hospital. It’s a workload that 300 plus associates service 24/7, supporting both in-house and community outpatient needs.

“I don’t think people realize just how much your health diagnosis, the laboratory, is responsible for,” said Rodriguez.

However, it’s the lab’s turnaround time that scored it national benchmark recognition in 2018. Rodriguez said Holmes Regional’s laboratory recently won accolades for ranking in the top decile of 99.1 for turnaround times. This is based on the time a specimen is received in the lab until the time it is verified. This success is attributed to the associates’ hard work and dedication to their profession.

So, how does this impact quality of care for our customers? It means “accurate and timely results so that they can be treated, recover and get home to their loved ones,” said Rodriguez.

While it’s a process that isn’t performed out in the open or on the front end, it’s a vitally important one.   Instead, it’s tucked away and considered the quiet Crime Scene Investigation unit of the IDN – and the associates who work there embrace their roles in caring for their customers.

“Oh, we love it,” said Rodriguez. “We absolutely love doing it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *