The Ontario Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists is sounding the alarm over a health care concern in the province.

“46 per cent of medical laboratory professionals are eligible to retire in the next five to eight years” says Robert Scheuermann, the president of the OSMT.

Medical Laboratory professionals include technologists, assistants and technicians. They work in hospitals, physicians' offices, diagnostic labs, fertility clinics and specimen collection centers.

They process and analyze over half a million laboratory tests each day in Ontario.

“Health care is more than doctors and nurses” says Michelle Hoad, the executive director of the OSMT. “Most of the decisions that a doctor makes is based on laboratory results.”

“I’m the eyes and hands of the pathologist,” says Iain Macri, a pathologist’s assistant at Windsor Regional Hospital.

“We actually play a vital role in patient’s healthcare,” adds Jessica Fortier, a medical laboratory technologist at Windsor Regional.

Scheuermann says with the impending retirements, there aren’t enough laboratory professionals moving up the career stream due to the shortage of clinical placements.

“There are people interested in the profession but there aren’t enough spots available in the medical laboratory programs. Hospitals and private laboratories determine the number of available placements. We need the government to address this shortage.”

“The future of healthcare in Ontario should include the needs of the laboratory,” adds Hoad.

The OSMT has launched an awareness campaign named “Labfacts” to make the public aware of the shortages.