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Local man helps improve labs

BOURBONNAIS — Bourbonnais resident Brian Wellborn is part of an effort that is making pathology labs more efficient.

The results will be speedier identification of diseases and the saving of money, he said.

Wellborn, a former Cissna Park resident, works at Alverno Laboratories, which is 45 miles away in Hammond, Ind. He is the pathology manager.

Alverno is the first integrated network that has digitized its microscopic slides into scanned images, which can be sent online rather than by old-fashioned couriers, he said. Alverno, which serves Amita Health St. Mary’s Hospital and 27 other hospitals in Illinois and Indiana, still will need couriers to take tissue samples.

“We’re going to save money on couriers. This will reduce turnaround time. If someone is in the hospital, they’ll want to know what the results are quickly,” Wellborn said.

The digitized slides will let doctors send the images to colleagues quickly so they can get feedback, he said.

“Doctors love to share cases. If they had to get a specialist’s opinion before, it had to be driven to another site. Then, the other doctor had to wait for a review. Now, they can both log on and see the slide at the same time,” Wellborn said.

The challenge to digitizing slides was compression of so much data, Wellborn said. The solution was similar to how Google Maps allows people to scan around a map and only see the areas where the cursor is, he said.

The issue is personal for Wellborn. His father died of lung cancer, and Wellborn remembers waiting for about five days to see his father’s cancer screening. This, he said, helped him understand how difficult the wait can be for patients and their families.

Wellborn previously served in the Air Force. His wife, Renee, is a Watseka native.