Veterinary lab employees recognized for team accomplishment

by | Jul 21, 2022

Commissioner Steve Troxler recently recognized the dozens of employees who work in the Veterinary Division’s animal disease diagnostic laboratory in Raleigh. The employees received the NCDA&CS “Excellence in Team Accomplishment” award.

In all, 62 employees in the lab received recognition for their teamwork, including Dr. Jim Trybus, DVM, DACVP, who is the director of the state’s four diagnostic veterinary clinics. He nominated the staff of the Raleigh lab for the award.

“He and the team of employees have earned this award because of their ‘tiny little move’ last fall. Plus, they’ve faced some challenging times before and after that move also,” Commissioner Troxler said during the award presentation. “In all seriousness, it may have been only about a half-mile down the road to get to the new Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center, but that relocation was a big undertaking.”

Some of the 62 veterinary lab employees joined Commissioner Troxler for the award presentation.

Commissioner Troxler was referring to the move out of the Rollins Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at the corner of Blue Ridge Road and Reedy Creek Road (across from the N.C. Museum of Art). The lab moved out in September of 2021, taking all of the important equipment and supplies to new space in the Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center. The new Troxler building at the corner of Reedy Creek Road and Edwards Mill Road is indeed just a half mile down the road, but getting everything from one building to another took a thorough plan of phases and “movement choreography,” especially since the lab never paused operations and remained functional for testing during the multiweek process. In doing so, it was the only lab that moved into the new Troxler building without a break in operations.

“Because the continuous testing overlapped with move activities, laboratory staff had to come in early, stay late, and work on weekends to accomplish this goal,” Troxler said. “Thanks to that extra effort, the lab continued to support the animal industries and animal-owning citizens of North Carolina throughout the process.

“The bulk of the lab’s testing involves regulatory testing for the poultry industry, which is required for poultry movement for production or processing. So imagine if they’d just taken a break to move everything at once. We could have seen another wrinkle in the supply chain issues we’ve dealt with during COVID.”

Dr. Trybus said he felt the extra effort to keep the lab running during the move was just another example of the staff going above and beyond to serve the lab’s clients, which includes the animal industry, veterinarians and the animal-owning citizens of North Carolina.

“I continually feel fortunate to work day-in and day-out with some of the most service minded, hard-working, client-focused staff in the department,” Dr. Trybus said. “Whether it’s a rush regulatory sample, diagnostic specimen, a herd health concern or beloved companion animal, our staff routinely works hard to provide accurate and timely diagnostic services.  This is on a regular basis.”

Continuing non-stop operations during the move meant quick results continued to come out of the lab, which in turn helps protect the food supply and public health.

“The employees who made that possible have proven to be service-minded, dedicated and just plain hardworking,” Troxler said.

The move came during an already busy time for the staff. The lab has seen a 25 percent increase in submissions over the last five years, yet it’s had the same equipment and a considerable turn-over since there is a lot of competition for lab specialists in the Triangle area. The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the lab even more by also affecting staff and requiring split shifts to cut down on the number of people in the lab at one time.

Also, many of these employees were just coming off of responding to a Low Path Avian Influence outbreak around the start of the pandemic. That required a high volume of samples and testing with a quick turnaround. Then this year, the lab employees have been dealing with the most recent High Path Avian Influenza outbreak. While still dealing with staffing challenges and supply chain issues, the employees have been in overdrive once again.

“So, in the last couple of years, the lab has dealt with an LPAI outbreak, the challenges of COVID, the move to the Ag Sciences Center and now an HPAI response,” Troxler recapped. “It’s understandable that they are worn and weary, but they have kept going and kept serving our state. Their hard work and dedication make them an obvious choice to receive this Excellence in Team Accomplishment award. I know it has taken a lot of working together to keep up their level of service and even exceed what they’ve done in previous years. For that, I want to say thank you.

Dr. Trybus said he was glad to see his Raleigh staff recognized. He obviously felt they deserved for the entire department and the general public to realize their hard work.

“We’ve experienced some very challenging issues the past several years, and as expected, our staff exceeded all expectations and met these challenges head on,” Trybus said. “For us to successfully meet these challenges, it took everyone’s best efforts, long days, weekends, and tireless work.  I wanted the lab staff to be recognized for these outstanding accomplishments.”