Philanthropist Ken Lepin has donated money to the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation to help buy a $90,000 isoplater, used in the hospital laboratory.
“I am somewhat competitive and when another city gets all the new lab equipment and expects our lab work to go there, I say no,” Lepin said. “We will do it here and get the results in a matter of hours.”
An isoplater is a sophisticated petri dish streaking instrument that is designed to provide safe and highly reproducible streaking of patient sample on culture media. Previously, this was done by hand, which was very laborious with potential inconsistencies and higher risk of exposure to pathogens. With the new machine, lab technicians are more protected and the procedure itself is much faster with a higher degree of accuracy.
Deb Eckert, operations supervisor of microbiology at Royal Inland Hospital, said the machine is a life-saver.
“We had a request for a new machine as we could not get parts or ongoing service for the old machine,” she said. “When it broke down for good several months ago, we were in a bind as we had to resort to doing cultures by hand, which is really time-consuming. Now with the new isoplater, the microbiology lab assistants can focus on other tasks.”
The new machine, which is used 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is an essential piece of equipment in the lab.
“Due to the fact that the lab at the hospital works in the background, it is often overlooked, but actually, it is the one area that deals with almost every patient in the hospital,” RIH Foundation CEO Heidi Coleman said. “The work that it does is essential and time is of the essence, so being able to purchase equipment such as the Isoplater, which increases the speed and efficiency of the tasks, is incredibly important. Thanks to donations such as this one from Ken Lepin, we are able to continually strive for quality improvement.”
Lepin has been a high-profile donor to the RIH Foundation for more than 25 years and has given in excess of $1 million, with money going to various areas of the hospital, including the new intensive-care unit, the operating room expansion and adding equipment to the RIH lab, such as a tissue immunohistochemistry stainer that is used in cancer diagnosis, a molecular genetic tester for viruses (including COVID-19 coronavirus) and Clostridium difficile, a high-performance liquid chromatography instrument for diabetes care.
Lepin e also funded the theatre, which bears his name, in the Clinical Services Building at RIH.