The Iowans who work at a state lab in Ankeny doubled their workload the day after Hurricane Katrina struck. The Ankeny facility, part of the University of Iowa Hygienics Lab, started processing the blood work of every baby born in Louisiana as well as all the babies born here. Iowa Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson says it helped that the Iowa lab workers had moved into a new lab a few months ago.
“It’s been a big increase (in their workload) and it’s not something we could have done prior to having our new lab facility,” Pederson says.
Iowa is part of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact between the states and was asked to do all the “neonatal screening” in Louisiana. The building in New Orleans where the testing for newborns had been done was damaged by the hurricane and cannot be reoccupied.
Pederson says the tests help detect genetic problems and let doctors prescribe any available “early intervention.” The tests can also reveal nutritional problems.
An official from Louisiana was in Ankeny this morning to thank the workers at the lab personally for their efforts to turn around the baby tests so quickly.