LifeLabs People: Making Great Things Happen

At the core of our success as an organization is an extraordinary team whose tenacity, compassion, and innovation drive us forward. Their unwavering dedication to our customers and communities is unmatched — not just in their work, but in every aspect of their lives.


Pursuing a Passion for Learning

Supporting employees who want to learn, build skills, and advance their careers is a win-win situation. While helping employees achieve their career aspirations, we are also helping to build a talent pipeline that brings people into highly skilled roles at LifeLabs.

Take employees Carrie Repay and Sascha Warren, for example. Both started their careers at LifeLabs as lab technicians, managing the preparation, storage, and disposal of specimens and the set-up of test equipment. Hungry to deepen their knowledge, they went back to school and earned their Medical Lab Technologist credentials, gaining the skills to perform diagnostic tests and report the results. Sascha and Carrie recently returned to LifeLabs to fill two critical vacancies in our Thunder Bay, Ontario lab.

“I love working in the lab,” says Sascha, who started at LifeLabs eight years ago. In 2019, she entered the Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) program at Cambrian College and completed it in 2022. “I kept hearing about the program from my sister, and it sounded so interesting,” Cambrian’s MLT program is a combination of classroom learning, laboratory exercises, and clinical placements that teach “medical detective skills” to analyze and interpret scientific data. Sascha’s colleague Carrie, who started at LifeLabs 11 years ago, also received her MLT certificate from Cambrian College in 2022.

In both cases, their managers helped to find creative solutions that enabled them to complete their educations. “My challenge was that I live in Thunder Bay, and Cambrian is an eight-hour drive away in Sudbury,” says Sascha. “It was difficult to be away from my children so much, but LifeLabs helped to make this work.” LifeLabs was able to offer Sascha an eight-month practicum placement at our lab in Thunder Bay. Carrie, who started her studies at St. Lawrence College in Belleville, was able to transfer to the LifeLabs Belleville location so that she could continue to work part-time. She then transferred to Cambrian for her final year, which meant that she could return home and complete her practicum placement at Thunder Bay Regional Hospital.

“We’re so delighted to welcome these employees as new MLT grads,” says Mario Audet, Manager, Laboratory Operations in Thunder Bay. “They bring much-needed skills back to LifeLabs, and their future looks very bright.”

Energizing and Connecting the Team

Year after year, our employee satisfaction survey tells us that LifeLabs’ people value their colleagues and the sense of teamwork they share. Teamwork is essential to delivering accurate diagnostic results and great customer service.

It is also essential to our collective resilience, as colleagues pull together and support each other in their demanding and often fast-paced work.

LifeLabs employees tend to be proactive, so it is not surprising that they frequently take the initiative to enhance and celebrate team spirit. The events they organize are as creative and varied as the people who work here.

This year, the teams in our Sudbury lab decided to organize a local employee event every month, kicking off with a “PJs and Popcorn” social. One team in Customer Care organized a “village market” event, in which each customer care specialist set up a booth offering refreshments or small gift items for ‘sale’ (like The Sweet Factory and the Concession Shop). But instead of using cash, team members had to pay by completing a task or game. “It really got us interacting with each other in a light, fun way,” says Aileen Alabado, Senior Customer Support Agent. “Laughter is a great stress reliever and laughing together brings such a positive vibe to the team.”

Laughter was also the theme when the Kennedy Reference Laboratory’s Microbiology team competed in a Super Mario™ Laboratory Safety Challenge. Staff members dressed as Nintendo® characters and, at the sound of a bell, raced to answer lab safety questions from four different categories. “It was a great way to refresh our safety awareness and have a blast at the same time,” says Jamaal Pratt, Nightshift Supervisor, Microbiology.

Meanwhile, in the Belleville lab, the focus is always on appreciation. “We have such a wonderful team here, and I wanted to make sure we don’t take each other for granted,” says Sabrina Joseph, Medical Lab Technologist, who initiated the idea of a Kindness Garden. “We each draw a name randomly, choose a flower picture to represent that person, and write an appreciative comment,” she says. The pictures and comments are displayed in a “garden” on a prominent wall. “The garden is a constant reminder of all the positive contributions people make and how much we value each other,” Sabrina says.



Giving the Gift of Life

LifeLabs’ people are known for caring passionately about the health of Canadians. In 2022, one employee demonstrated this caring in a very personal way. Lab technologist Tracy Shoemaker was browsing online news when she spotted an article about someone needing a kidney donor with a rare blood type.

“Of course, that caught my eye,” Tracy says, “I’m a lab tech, after all!” She also quickly realized that she had the rare blood type required. “That got me thinking,” she says.

After researching the devastating effects of kidney disease and learning how few living donors have rare blood types, she decided to sign on as an anonymous donor through the National Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program.

This program finds kidneys for patients who have a friend or family member willing to become a donor. “Often people want to donate to a loved one but aren’t a close enough match,” Tracy explains. Under the KPD program, they donate to an anonymous recipient, and in exchange, their loved one also receives a transplant when a match is found. Sometimes, a chain of organ exchanges results in multiple transplants at the same time. Tracy enrolled in the program as a “non-directed anonymous donor” — a donor who is not paired with a transplant candidate. Non-directed donors greatly expand the potential for finding a match.

After extensive testing, Tracy, who works in the Surrey, BC, laboratory, became part of a life-giving chain of kidney transplants. “It was a team effort,” she says, that required a lot of support from her family, her manager, and her co-workers, who covered for her during the eight weeks she was off work.

“My faith in the human spirit, which got a bit worn down with the pandemic, has been restored,” Tracy says. “Every healthcare professional I encountered, many of whom were LifeLabs employees, was patient and kind.”