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Hospital wants to increase service

Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is ramping up its lab services to possibly triple the number of physicians it services next year.

The Burbank hospital announced this week that early next year it will launch California Laboratory Associates, combining with Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories of Spokane, Wash., to expand its capacity for testing tissue samples for everything from cancer and tuberculosis to vitamin D deficiency.

Rafael Millare, Providence Saint Joseph’s Laboratory and Pathology Services administrative director, said the expansion will allow the hospital to serve more local doctors, send results electronically and compete with large commercial labs, while improving services for hospital clients.

“For the laboratory business in the hospital, the main objective is to serve the in-patient,” Millare said. “With the outreach program now, we have over 1,000 physicians in our database. Once we open up, in our first year we make double or triple that.”


Providence Health Services, the Washington-based parent of Providence Saint Joseph, owns a majority share in PAML and the two already have joint ventures in three other states. This venture would put the hospital in greater competition with the large commercial labs in the industry, New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics Inc. and North Carolina-based LabCorp.

The service may be marketed to physicians from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, Millare said.

“For us, it is a way to reach out to our physicians and those throughout the valley and provide a service that we think can be clinically relevant and financially relevant for them and their patients,” Providence Saint Joseph Chief Executive Barry Wolfman said. “We believe that hospitals and physicians need to work really closely, and this is an extension of that philosophy and an extension of our existing laboratory.”

The Providence Saint Joseph lab was recently renovated and employs about 200 people, Millare said. One benefit of the partnership, he added, is that keeping more lab work at Providence Saint Joseph will slow the flow of samples going to out-of-state laboratories.


“We help in the local economy because the dollar stays here,” Millare said.