Our Departments

Medlab Central provides diagnostic medical laboratory testing. To help facilitate the best possible test results we have a team of specialised staff that are extensively trained and will endeavour to collect and process the samples as efficiently and as accurately as possible. 

Medlab Central provides a wide range of services in relation to diagnostic testing for patients in both the community and public hospitals throughout the region. Medlab Central supplies community services to Palmerston North, Whanganui, Feilding, Bulls, Levin, Dannevirke, Hawkes Bay, Pahiatua, Eketahuna, Otaki, Marton and Gisborne. In addition, we provide public hospital-based services to MidCentral DHB in Palmerston North, Whanganui DHB in Whanganui and Tairawhiti DHB in Gisborne as well as referred services to a variety of DHB hospitals.

The laboratory is comprised of several departments, each playing a crucial role in the sample collection, sorting, analysing and reporting of the final result. The Medlab Central team has a commitment to service excellence, being aware of both our responsibility and accountability to deliver services of the highest quality to fully satisfy the expectations of patients and their medical advisors.

Biochemistry

The Biochemistry Department analyses the chemical components of blood, urine and faeces e.g sodium or glucose. These assays are performed on sophisticated automated instruments by well trained registered laboratory Scientists and Technicians. Conditions investigated include diabetes, liver and kidney disease, heart attacks and hormone imbalance.

Serology or Immunology

The Serology or Immunology Department investigates the immune system by testing the body's production of antibodies in response to certain bacteria and viruses. It also investigates many of the auto-immune diseases. 

The Cytology Department studies cells for the presence of cancer. Cell samples from the cervical smears, urine and lungs are placed on slides, stained and examined under the microscope.

The department handles approximately 40,000 specimens annually, including approximately 35,000 gynaecological samples and approximately 5,000 non-gynaecological specimens.

The Haematology laboratory studies the diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs. The cells of the blood (red cells, white cells and platelets) are counted on sophisticated analysers and if abnormal their morphology is examined microscopically by registered Technicians and Scientists to aid in determining the cause of the abnormality. The types of abnormalities encountered include iron deficiency anaemia, infectious mononucleosis, leukaemia and other haematological malignancies, amongst many other disorders.

The coagulation department determines the ability of blood to form a clot. Coagulation studies are performed to investigate the cause of bleeding or thrombotic (clotting) disorders or to monitor the effects of treatment for these conditions, such as warfarin therapy.

Various other tests are performed to investigate abnormalities of haemoglobin synthesis, exclude malaria, red cell enzyme deficiencies and other diseases of the blood.

Histology is the study of cells from tissue samples. This requires specimens to be dissected so that areas of interest can be processed. This usually requires immediate fixing in formalin before undergoing a 24hr process to prepare the specimen to be sectioned on a microtome and subsequent staining of the tissue attached to slides.

The standard histology stain is called an H&E, but more complex cases can require an increased number of special stains. These special stains usually take longer to perform than a standard stain and can be more costly. Examples we perform here are immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and a myriad of hand stain techniques.

The Microbiology Department processes a wide variety of samples, such as swabs, blood, urine, faeces and sputum for the presence of pathogenic microorganisms. These organisms are identified by biochemical, antigen/antibody reaction, specialist stains and molecular methodologies. Where appropriate tests are performed to assess which antibiotic is the most suitable.

Map of New Zealand north island outlining the region covered by Medlab Mortuary

The Medlab Central mortuary operates within the scope of the Mid Central DHB. It is currently one of four classified Forensic facilities in New Zealand with the day to day running of the facility associated with the National Forensic Pathology Service of New Zealand and the Justice Department. (Coroners Act 2006).

The facility covers a geographical region in the North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui) incorporating Hawkes Bay in the east across to Whanganui in the west and up to Waiouru in the north, down to Te Horo in the south. 

The Medlab Central business is that of medical laboratory testing and to help facilitate the best possible test results we have a team of specimen collection staff that are extensively trained and will endeavour to make you feel at ease. 

We provide a wide range of collection services in relation to diagnostic testing for patients in both the community and public hospitals throughout the region. Medlab Central supplies community services to Palmerston North, Whanganui, Feilding, Bulls, Levin, Dannevirke, Hawkes Bay, Otaki, Marton and Gisborne. In addition, we provide public hospital-based services to MidCentral DHB in Palmerston North, Whanganui DHB in Whanganui and Tairawhiti DHB in Gisborne as well as referred services to a variety of DHB hospitals.

The phlebotomy team has a commitment to service excellence, being aware of both our responsibility and accountability to deliver services of the highest quality to fully satisfy the expectations of patients and their medical advisors.

The Laboratory Support department handles all specimens coming into the laboratory. Our team includes couriers, reception staff, data entry staff and telephonists as well as those who do the initial processing of all samples received into the lab.

The samples are brought to us by couriers, who deliver approximately 50 chilly bins a day from all over our collection area which covers much of the lower North Island.

Every specimen received by us is given a unique identifying number which is linked to the patient’s demographics, the Doctor's location, and the tests that are required on that sample. Once this information is entered into the Laboratory Information System, the samples are checked, sorted, and prepared for testing prior to being sent on to the individual departments for testing and reporting of results.