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Clinical Pathology

Clinical pathology refers mainly to the study of blood or body fluids. Although some sections of this department use a microscope for analysis, most testing is instrument based. The department is comprised of Microbiology, Chemistry, Hematology and Transfusion Services, which offer state of the art technology and diagnostic testing. The department is staffed by certified, experienced medical technologists who provide testing 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
For further information call: 217-464-2060

Clinical Pathology Services - Microbiology

Within the microbiology section, the causative agents of infections are identified. Some microorganisms are identified by growing them on culture plates. These microorganisms can be tested against a variety of antibiotics to determine which ones will be successful in eliminating the infection. The physician is then notified and appropriate therapy can be instituted. A variety of other tests are performed, using recently developed technology such as DNA probe analysis. These tests can determine if an infection is present by finding even the smallest particles of an organism. These tests allow us to identify sources of infection much earlier than before, which allows the physician to initiate treatment as soon as possible.
For further information call: 217-464-2060

Clinical Pathology Services - Chemistry

In the chemistry section, the testing menu is focused mainly on nutritional and metabolic assessment. Cardiac (heart) monitoring tests are also performed in this area. We were the first hospital based lab in Decatur to offer troponin testing, a blood test that can identify patients in the early stages of a heart attack. We also evaluate blood specimens for the presence of infections such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis. The organisms causing these diseases are viruses that cannot be grown in the lab like other organisms, such as bacteria. If these antibodies are present, the blood is sent to our affiliate, Quest Diagnostics Laboratories, for further confirmation.
For further information call: 217-464-2060

Clinical Pathology Services - Hematology

The hematology section identifies the type and numbers of cells circulating in the blood stream. Increases in the white cells can signal infection or other serious illness. Bone marrow biopsies are processed in this department. The biopsy is performed to determine whether or not a blood disorder is present, or, if certain infections are being harbored. Coagulation testing is also performed here, providing tests that monitor the effects of Coumadin or Heparin therapy, or determine the cause of unexplained bleeding. St. Mary’s laboratory has the only PFA-100 system in the area, a special machine that lets the physician know whether or not it is safe to perform surgery on a patient with a history of bleeding.
For further information call: 217-464-2060

Clinical Pathology Services - Transfusion Services 

The transfusion services operated under a contractual agreement with Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) for procurement of total blood supply. All blood and blood components transfused at St. Mary's Hospital are voluntarily donated through the MVRBC. This blood is of the highest quality and has been thoroughly tested by MVRBC technologists. Donors are not drawn on hospital premises
Alternate sources of blood for transfusion are available through MVRBC:
  • Autologous Donation: Collection of the patient's own blood for possible re-infusion during or after elective surgery.
  • Directed or designated donation: Family or friends may donate blood specifically for another individual in non-emergency situations if type specific or type compatible.
Autologous and direct donors are not drawn at St. Mary's Hospital. Protocols have been established in conjunction with MVRBC to facilitate these types of donation within the community. Generally, donations may be made at MVRBC Community Blood Centers in Springfield or Urbana, or at one of their mobile blood drives. Prior registration is necessary. Both alternative types of donations require a physician's order and will involve an additional charge by MVRBC for processing.

For additional information regarding these procedures, please contact one of the following:

Transfusion Services

St. Mary's Hospital
(217) 464-2975

Central Illinois Community Blood Center
Springfield, IL
(217) 753-1530 or (866) 448-3253

Community Blood Services of Illinois
Urbana, IL
(217) 367-2202 or (800) 217-4483

All patients who are transfusion candidates for blood or blood products will be arm banded with a transfusion service identification arm band at the time of sample collection. This arm band will be used to identify the patient prior to transfusion and must remain on the patient during the course of the hospitalization or transfusion therapy.

For further information call: 217-464-2060
If the transfusion armband impedes patient care, only qualified personnel can adjust or move the arm band to another location on the patient. Transfusion services maintains a list of qualified personnel. We will be happy to answer questions. Please call (217) 464-2975 or 464-2077.