2023 Lab of the Year Runner Up: North Kansas City Hospital Laboratory

March 27, 2023

North Kansas City Hospital (NKCH) Laboratory is a 450-bed acute care hospital with 31 health clinics and 550 physicians. They have 98 full time equivalents in the lab and their scope of responsibilities include a level II trauma center, a teaching hospital, and 24/7 clinical and pathology lab services.

The laboratory performs 9 different categories of tests adding up to over 1.5 million tests annually.

Customer service

NKCH Laboratory monitors their customer satisfaction rate, striving to stay above 96%, exceeding it in September 2022 and fiscal year 2023.

“Just like members of the chorus singing together to make beautiful music, each member of our laboratory works together to provide exceptional customer service,” said Antoinette Martin, Phlebotomist, North Kansas City Hospital Laboratory. “Outside the lab our phlebotomists often see patients who are not at their best and having the empathy to treat them with kindness and understanding is a priority. We also interact with those at the bedside and support them in providing the best patient care possible. Inside the lab, it is common to see our staff helping each other out while also trying to have a good time and take care of one another. Just like a perfectly orchestrated song, good customer service takes all of us doing our part!"

In addition to the lab’s customer satisfaction metrics, they review patient feedback monthly and created a “WOW” system for positive employee recognition.


How do we monitor productivity in the lab at NKCH, asked Sean Tucker MBA MLS(ASCP)CM, Director of Laboratory Services. “We measure ourselves against our peers across institutions with similar sized facilities. While not always apples to apples, based on complexity and turnover, our goal is to be above the 50th percentile and we consistently achieve that goal!”

They also use metrics and a productivity performance scorecard to monitor the lab’s productivity. Their combined “roll-up” worked hours per unit of service has an average of 105% productivity.


The mission of North Kansas City Hospital is “to provide hope and healing to every life we touch.”

The employees of NKCH Laboratory have a great working relationship, said Deana Gialde MLS, SM(ASCP)CM, Microbiology Supervisor. “I believe this stems from the hospital’s core values, which rate an employee’s performance not only on how well they perform a job, but forty percent is dedicated to behavior expectations. I honestly love the people I work with! I know without a doubt that we not only provide quality results, but we do so with care and compassion.”

Several employees are cross trained so they can be ready to help other departments when needed. The laboratory has all staff teaching others. Scientists volunteer for student lectures and the first shift lab techs educate daily on the bench.

The lab team also conducts daily departmental huddles and hosts celebrations and recognitions for employees to encourage them. The team creates special bonds with each other through fun activities inside and outside of work.

They also collaborate with Community Blood Center to host 12 hospital wide blood drives every year, resulting in an average of 600 units of blood products collected annually.

Education and training

NKCH Laboratory scored the highest on their education and training. There are many services they provide that earned them runner-up, to name a few:

  • Total Quality Management program for quality control and performance improvement.
  • Added a career path for histology techs.
  • Implemented a career ladder program for career advancement.
  • Requires a certain amount of CEUs for each job skill and attempts to make them free.
  • Maintains a budget so department supervisors can attend national conferences.
  • Internal enrichment experiences like having laboratory students attend open-heart surgery and shadowing and observing other departments.
  • External enrichment experiences so laboratory students can attend off-site training.
Additionally, they have their own North Kansas City Hospital School of Medical Laboratory Science, one of six programs in the state. The lab’s day shift scientists teach the students and 70% of NKCH’s MLS staff are graduates of the program.

Strategic outlook

To improve efficiency and maximize output in the lab, NKCH Laboratory is adding Coagulation and Hematology to the automation line.  They created a new position for a Phlebotomy Education Coordinator and started a ‘grow your own’ Phlebotomy Training Program. They also developed a career ladder for lab assistants in phlebotomy and processing.

To help minimize nonessential lab testing, the laboratory started a “Choosing Wisely” campaign with a utilization review committee. With the ultimate goal of cost savings in mind, they use a health information management system to decrease unnecessary testing and blood product transfusions.

To reduce patient misidentification and increase efficiencies with automation, the lab implemented CareAware, a positive patient ID at bedside.

“Our patients deserve the best, so it's important that the North Kansas City Hospital laboratory delivers the highest quality of patient care as efficiently and cost effectively as possible,” said Dr. Brett Sramek, DO, Medical Director. “In order to meet that expectation, we are continually reviewing processes and implementing new technology. Our overarching goal is to constantly think strategically in order to set the benchmark not only for other institutions, but also for our industry.”

Lab inspections

At their most recent lab inspection on November 15, 2022, NKCH Laboratory was only given two deficiencies: the Microbiology Department outgrowing their space and a missing competency assessment documentation. Both of these have been addressed and responded to by the lab.

Their CAP Inspection Summary said, “This is the best laboratory I’ve seen in Kansas City,” Dr. Lyle Noordhoek, MD, Lead Inspector.