Oklahoma State Department of Health officials say improvements made at Public Health Lab following review

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma State Department of Health officials say they are making improvements to the state’s Public Health Lab after Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reviewed the lab.

OSDH officials said health officials took the following actions at the lab to address all issues CMS listed in its report:

  • Modernized lab security
  • Reviewed and adjusted staff training protocols
  • Improved and verified testing SOPs and updated sample collection process 
  • Ensured proper temperature control, storage and structured transportation of samples
  • Resolved reporting on COVID-19 sequencing results
  • Transferred the lab’s Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) number following the move from OKC to Stillwater

“The team at the [Public Health Lab] has responded expeditiously to the findings in this report and have established the proper systems that will continue to move the lab forward,” said Secretary of Health and Mental Health Kevin Corbett. “We recognize it has been a challenging few years to be in public health, and we appreciate all employees for their dedication to Oklahomans during COVID-19 and their service at the Public Health Lab. We are confident we have well-trained staff, the right resources and state-of-the-art technology, which are all foundational for a best in class lab and our response to those we serve.”

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Oklahoma State Department of Health

CMS reviews labs throughout the nation to ensure the quality and safety of operations. It also regulates CLIA certificates for labs and federal management of Medicaid/Medicare funding, according to an OSDH news release.

“As a regulatory agency, OSDH values the work CMS provides in identifying opportunities for improvements set forth in this report,” said Interim Commissioner of Health Keith Reed. “We recognize that reviews such as this are crucial to ensuring the highest quality of services possible to Oklahomans, and we have worked alongside CMS throughout the process to achieve that goal. Moving a lab to a new location presents opportunities to improve quality standards and operational efficiency. The CMS review was timely to help us with this endeavor and we are excited for the opportunity to position our Public Health Lab for long-term success.” 

OSDH officials pledged in the news release that they will periodically review their processes to inform staff on areas for continuous improvement.

KFOR has made an open records request for CMS’ report of the state’s Public Health Lab. We are awaiting its arrival.

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