/Department of Health Opens 21st Century Facility

Department of Health Opens 21st Century Facility

The new facility is in compliance with the standards set by the federal government for high-infectious diseases laboratories. It’s not the same building as the one that was constructed in 1959. It is twice the size of the previous laboratory at 80,000 square feet. “What is the real difference? We have the infrastructure to perform more of our testing in-house. Our old facility was limited. Sometimes we couldn’t plug in multiple instruments in the same room.” Dr. Daphne Ware is the Clinical Services Director at the Public Health Laboratory. “We can test for things that no other person wants to test for,” Dr. Daphne Ware, Clinical Services Director of the Public Health Laboratory, said. The facility has 3,000 feet of Biosafety Level 3 Containment Zones so staff can work with highly infectious agents like smallpox and anthrax. According to Liz Sharlot (director of communications at the Department of Health), they can also test in-house against the Zika virus. Ware stated that the facility will eventually save the state money, even though it cost $36million. Ware stated that sending testing to other labs costs money. “It kinda allows us to keep a good base of public health science when scientists can readily absorb new tests. Because without that, our state would have limited ability to respond to events.” The facility is named after Dr. F. E. “Ed” Thompson Jr. who was State Health Officer from 1993 to 2002, and again from 2007 to his death in 2009. Ware says that Thompson was the one who spearheaded the creation of a state laboratory. Sharlot stated, “We are happy to celebrate Mississippi’s 21st century laboratory that honors Dr. Thompson” Contributing: Zachary Oren Smith