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Estelle Panarotto – Laboratory Technician with two missions

Estelle Panarotto – Laboratory Technician with two missions
2020 06-16

What is your expertise and how did you come to fight COVID-19?

I have been working at the LNS since 2000 as a lab technician. After having spent years within the Toxicology Unit, I finally joined the Medical Biology department in 2014, where I work as a part-time technician in the Biochemistry Unit, and in addition at the Réception Centralisée (RC). The RC receives samples, encodes them into our laboratory information system – GLIMS, and sends them to the various LNS services. The RC is hence the front line for sample reception at the LNS, and has had to deal, day after day, with the exponential influx of Covid-19 samples.

What is your role as part of the LNS COVID-19 Fighters team?

At the RC, we dispatch the COVID-19 samples as soon as they arrive – without unpacking or encoding them – via our automated transport system to the virology department, WTS. At a certain point, the virology department was overwhelmed with these requests for analyses. As a result, the RC began to assist the service by taking charge of encoding the COVID-19 files.

How do you cooperate with other institutions in the fight against COVID-19?

As agreed with the Virology Service, prescriptions are forwarded to us from that department, and we then have to enter the necessary files into GLIMS, and scan the prescriptions. We also cooperated with the Inspection Sanitaire, which would send us the samples several times a day. When entering the files, we made sure to guarantee correct patient identification. In case of doubt, we would check the RNPP file, or with the director of the retirement home concerned.

The term “Fighter” implies hard work and determination: what obstacles did you have to face?

At the peak of the pandemic, the Direction de la Santé launched the screening programme for all retirement homes in the Grand Duchy, which involved more or less 12,000 tests, and therefore enormous demand. I had to temporarily set my role as a biochemist aside to fully devote myself to the RC. At the same time, we adopted a two-team rota so as to cover a greater part of the day, especially after 2 p.m., when samples were arriving in large numbers. Despite our efforts, we still had to reinforce our team by calling on three additional staff, two from Medical Biology and one from Forensic Medicine.

What was has been the highlight of your fight against COVID-19?

What really stood out was how people mobilized when we had to organise how the CR would work during the screening program for retirement homes. A deep sense of cohesion emerged, with a strong team spirit based on dialogue. Our dedication to professional rigour only strengthened with the importance of our role during this unprecedented pandemic.