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NIH Auxiliary Donation Expands Hospital Lab Capabilities



An equipment donation from the Northern Inyo Hospital Auxiliary has increased the hospital’s ability to quickly diagnose and treat bacterial infections.



The new mini VIDAS Immunoassay Analyzer has the ability to do many different biochemical tests, which gives great versatility to the lab and potential for expanding NIH’s in-house testing. NIH officials are particularly excited about the analyzer’s ability to test procalcitonin (PCT) levels.



The PCT test evaluates the risk of a seriously ill patient developing a bacterial infection such as sepsis. Higher levels of PCT, a marker of inflammatory response, are a sign of infection.



NIH’s Hospitalist, Dr. Joy Engblade, asked the Auxiliary to consider purchasing the analyzer. “It allows physicians to make quick, effective diagnoses when symptoms are very ambiguous,” Dr. Engblade said.  Engblade explained that antibiotic overuse has lead to an increase in “super bugs” that are often resistant to available antibiotics. This reduces antibiotic effectiveness when a patient is truly suffering from a bacterial infection.



In its early phase, bacterial infections can be hard to distinguish from non-bacterial infections and/or inflammatory conditions, Engblade explained. Tracking the progress of bacterial infections is often a challenge, making it difficult for physicians to make appropriate care choices. “With this tool, we can get a better sense if a patient is suffering from a bacterial infection or not. We are also able to monitor response to antibiotics, thus being able to safely stop antibiotics as soon as possible,” Engblade explained. “This will really help us limit overexposure to antibiotics.”



Engblade said the analyzer can also conduct other tests as the need arises. The analyzer can look at markers for cardiac, thyroid, cancer and reproductive/fertility issues.



Auxiliary President Judy Fratella and Treasurer Sharon Moore said the analyzer cost $18,388.32 to purchase. The Auxiliary raised a little more than $15,000 of the purchase price, and then applied for a grant from The Margaret Pillsbury Foundation to assist with the remaining $3,000.



“We cannot begin to express our gratitude to the Auxiliary for all it has done for the hospital,” said NIH CEO Victoria Alexander-Lane. “Their continued commitment to improving patient care within the hospital goes above and beyond. We are also grateful to the Pillsbury Foundation for its generous contribution. We certainly could not do what we do without either organization.”



Established in 1963, the Northern Inyo Hospital Auxiliary has raised $483,139 to purchase life saving equipment for the hospital. Funds are raised through the group’s hospital gift shop sales, holiday boutique sales, yard sales and gifts from the Margaret Pillsbury Foundation. Those interested in joining the Auxiliary, may download an application online at and drop it by the hospital gift shop between noon and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Auxiliary meets every third Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the hospital’s Birch Street Annex, located on the northeast corner of Birch and Grandview, just across the street from the Jill Kinmont Boothe School.





Northern Inyo Hospital is a 25-bed, not-for-profit Critical Access Hospital located in Bishop. Accredited by The Joint Commission, NIH has been providing quality health care to the Eastern Sierra since 1946.



Northern Inyo Hospital Auxiliary members accept the Margaret Pillsbury Foundation donation, which helped the Auxiliary purchase the new mini VIDAS Immunoassay Analyzer. From left to right, NIH Auxiliary member Betty Anziano, Auxiliary president Judy Fratella, Pillsbury Foundation representative John Cocherell, Auxiliary treasurer Sharon Moore, Auxiliary member Cheryl Underhill and Auxiliary gift shop coordinator Nona Jones. Photo by Barbara Laughon/Northern Inyo Hospital.



NIH Director of Laboratory Fran Yuschak, Dr. Joy Engblade and NIH Chief Operations Officer Leo Fries stand with the new mini VIDAS Immunoassay Analyzer, housed in the hospital’s laboratory. Photo by Barbara Laughon/Northern Inyo Hospital.