In 2020, the Laboratoire national de santé (LNS) proved itself to be one of the essential pillars of the Luxembourg healthcare system in the fight against COVID-19, while consistently continuing its path of professionalism and excellence in all areas. As can be seen in the 2020 Annual Report, the LNS’ microbiologists in particular were involved in the day-to-day activities surrounding COVID-19 from the spring onwards, with support from the other departments. The annual report reflects all this – in English and French – in exciting episodes and is also visually quite deliberately ‘geared to topicality’.
“2020 was a particular year, especially for the LNS as an essential health player for Luxembourg and the Greater Region”, says LNS Director Prof. Dr Friedrich Mühlschlegel. “At the beginning of the year no one could imagine what was to befall our country and the entire world starting in the spring. COVID-19 did not catch us off guard, but the situation was a completely new one, and always unpredictable, especially at the beginning. That is why our 2020 Annual Report is also a very special read. It relays many very real episodes around COVID-19, tells how each team member contributed to our ability as LNS to serve the country and its people – and what different actions were necessary to make that happen.”
Exciting stories from the COVID-19 frontline: microbiologists take centre stage
The LNS Microbiology Department has been on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 since the spring of 2020. The microbiologists became, as the preface to the annual report states, “a backbone of the Luxembourg healthcare system.” Friedrich Mühlschlegel: “Our microbiologists have quickly become a central point of contact for all questions concerning the coronavirus, and this even beyond the borders of Luxembourg. That is why we have given their “story” by far the most space in the annual report. On the one hand, the corresponding chapter is particularly extensive in itself and also provides portraits of the people behind the team’s achievements. The annual report includes a ‘COVID-19 Timeline’, which provides a time-lapse account of the microbiologists’ work for country and people.”
The LNS ‘handles crises’, and the departments continue to evolve
However, the other departments also contributed to the fact that the LNS was able to meet these requirements, as Friedrich Mühlschlegel emphasises: “Our entire team has shown that we can ‘handle crises’. Employees from all other departments were also involved in the fight against COVID-19. It was very important to us that the central activities of the LNS, such as cancer diagnostics, genetics, forensic medicine, clinical biochemistry, or health protection, were not neglected. On the contrary, in parallel with the fight against the pandemic, we continued to pursue previously adopted paths in 2020. Often, a sustainable new solution emerged from the situation. We can all be proud of all that has been achieved.”
Digital and diagnostics: Near-term innovations in all areas.
New digital solutions with lasting impact have been integrated by the National Center of Genetics (NCG). For instance, the then-brand-new tool of video conferencing for a social-distancing-friendly genetics consultation was introduced as early as spring 2020. Forensic pathologists needed to respond to an increased risk of infection during autopsies, and in-house high-end technology combined with exchanges with international partners proved to be effective. Finally, the National Center of Pathology (NCP) as well as the Department of Biomedicine, continued with their innovation paths, designed for the long term with new diagnostic approaches, with staff from these two departments also involved in the common fight against COVID-19. As for the LNS’ health protection experts, they launched a new service, which is now taking the lead in Luxembourg in the field of indoor air pollution.
People and technology hand in hand: holistic crisis management
According to Friedrich Mühlschlegel, all this was also possible thanks to the holistic crisis management of the Administration, Finance & Support Services Department: “Our experts in HR, IT, Finance and Supply Chain ensured that all processes were quickly adapted to the new situation, which made holistic crisis management possible in the first place. In the process, people and technology went hand in hand; the expertise of the LNS’ team was further strengthened by new employees, and at the same time digitalisation was consistently advanced.”
Scientific magazine character: design reflects real-world excellence
To do justice to all these facets of 2020, the LNS deliberately opted for a report design that is quasi reminiscent of a scientific journal, as Board President Prof. Dr Evelin Schröck explains: “Our year 2020 took place at the crossroads of scientific excellence and everyday events. We want to convey both aspects in the annual report, both in terms of content and appearance, and in doing so we are also picking up to a certain extent our COVID-19 Fighter campaign, which also creatively implemented our commitment as experts and people to the country and its people. Of course, it all builds on our Together LNS value system, which we introduced into our daily lives in 2019 and which has proven to be a lasting guiding light in the face of the crisis.”
The 2020 annual report can be downloaded here: https://lns.lu/publication/annual-report-2020/