DANVILLE - Ground was broken Thursday for a 115,000-square-foot, five-level Laboratory Medicine Building at Geisinger Medical Center (GMC). It will replace the current medical testing laboratories at GMC, providing space to expand Geisinger laboratory's clinical, research and teaching programs.

The $52.7 million building is expected to be completed by April 2015, when it will provide enhanced laboratory testing, education and research areas, as well as staff and employee offices, meeting rooms and support areas. It is located north of GMC's Hospital for Advanced Medicine (HfAM) and parking garage to provide direct connections to both.

"This building provides the necessary technology and additional space to advance laboratory medicine's performance and build upon its intellectual potential," Dr. Conrad Schuerch, chairman, laboratory medicine, Geisinger Health System, was quoted in a press release from Geisinger. "Its proximity to the main hospital - especially the intensive care units, emergency department and operating rooms - will assure that rapid turnaround times can be achieved for critical patients."

To maximize turnaround times on lab results, tube transport system routes have already been planned and built through the HfAM to connect with the new building.

The building will feature Remstar storage units, which extend up to 40 feet vertically from floor to floor through unused ceiling space. These units will provide centralized storage for specimens, reagents, supplies, surgical blocks and slides at a diminished cost of equivalent linear space. The model will provide highly efficient access for all necessary supplies to enhance workflows in the new building.

The expanded teaching capability will accommodate a future pathology residency program, a larger cytopathology fellowship program and, eventually, a transfusion medicine fellowship program. Future plans will also consider clinical training opportunities for university medical technologist students.

"The proposed facility provides needed capacity for future volume growth through highly efficient space configurations. This will allow the laboratory to achieve operational cost savings so necessary in today's constrained expense environment," said Therese Snyder, vice president, laboratory medicine, Geisinger Health System.