MEDIA RELEASE: General Practice network celebrates Pathlab’s quality service and support through COVID response


26 May 2022: Pathlab staff have been praised for their professionalism and unwavering service to the Western Bay of Plenty primary healthcare network at a special presentation that celebrated the unsung heroes of Aotearoa’s COVID response.

A framed poster containing messages of thanks from general practices was handed to Pathlab’s team today by the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation (PHO) at an event on Cameron Road. The poster is an expression of the network’s gratitude to Pathlab’s staff for their enormous efforts over the past two years of the COVID pandemic.

During this time, Pathlab responded to several surges in demand for molecular SARS-CoV-2 testing, while continuing to juggle other microbiology and molecular requests from general practice. At its peak of the COVID-19 testing surge in November 2021, the Bay of Plenty Pathlab service was processing approximately 3000 PCR tests per day.

Western Bay of Plenty PHO chief executive Lindsey Webber says Pathlab has played an important role in Aotearoa’s response to COVID since the first national lockdown in March 2020.

“The work of its molecular and microbiology teams is often unseen by the general public, but working in primary health, we know we are lost without their clinical support,” she says.

“For the first 18 months of the pandemic, when PCR testing was the only diagnostic tool available to us, it was the fabulous team at Pathlab that processed all our region’s tests. It was their efforts that gave us the critical information that we needed to understand the extent of any regional spikes in COVID cases. From there, our local healthcare network then swung into action to support our COVID-positive patients and their whānau.”

“Pathlab never buckled under the pressure of that enormous task. Instead, they rose to the challenge like so many of us working in health always do. As a PHO, we are very grateful to their team for their unwavering commitment to serving our community.”

PHO Network Services General Manager Phil Back adds that Pathlab’s services continue to be vital to the work of general practice teams.

“While our general practice teams continue to support COVID-positive patients isolating at home, many GPs are now encouraging patients to come back into their clinics for catch-up tests as part of other routine health checks,” he says. “Microbiology testing carried out by Pathlab gives GP teams the diagnostic information they need to make clinical decisions for patients. Laboratory work happens quietly behind the scenes but as a network, we know how fortunate we are to have Pathlab’s quality service supporting everyone.”

Pathlab chief executive Dianne McQueen says she is proud of the way Pathlab rallied together as a team during what have been extraordinary times in healthcare.

“It has been rewarding to see everyone come together and rise to the challenge of COVID. Everyone at Pathlab contributed, including our phlebotomy team who supported local GPs with COVID swabbing for those patients who were seen virtually by their GP, and also receiving and sorting numerous emailed request forms during this time.”


Photo caption:

(From left) Western Bay of Plenty PHO Chief Executive Lindsey Webber and PHO Network Services General Manager Phil Back at the gratitude presentation with Pathlab’s Lead of Specialty, Microbiology & Molecular Diagnostics Murray Robinson, and Pathlab Chief Executive Dianne McQueen.