In October of 2008, after many months of planning, PFC began construction on our new lab. The design called for an environmentally friendly facility that was bright, open, and efficient for our 8 embryologists and the many thousands of embryos that we care for each year. The size of the lab was doubled to allow for the addition of more embryo incubators and ensure room for future growth.
Traditionally the embryology lab is an area that is not accessible to patients or visitors, but our new design utilizes glass walls in key areas and makes our activities more transparent to the outside world. While the lab remains a secure area with limited access, the activities inside can be observed from the outside by anyone passing through our facility. This openness is important to all of us at PFC; we want to remove any mystery associated with the IVF lab, and allow patients free “visual” access. Large TV monitors are installed above several of the microscopes to further open up the world of IVF. We are proud of the work we do at PFC and we want to share.
While the glass walls are largely a cosmetic change, almost every other part of the new lab was designed with the health of our embryos in mind. The installation of a specialized and custom-designed air filtering unit consumed over 20% of the budget for the project. Our goal is to have highly purified air circulating in the lab. The new air handler achieves this goal with the use of a series of filters that remove all particles and chemicals from the air. The lab is further protected from the outside by two separate air lock doors that use positive pressure from the inside to the outside to keep unclean air out.
All supplies and consumables for the lab are handled by the embryologists only, who also take responsibility for all cleaning and other custodial functions. We empty our own trash and wash our own floors. These precautions are in place not only to keep custodians and other building staff out, but also to control the chemicals and cleaners that might con- taminate our clean environment. All com- pressed gases (which feed our incubators) and liquid nitrogen (for our frozen embryo tanks) is piped in from outside the lab, so that it is not necessary for delivery people to enter the lab.
Our incubators in which the embryos develop are fundamentally the most important pieces of equipment in the lab. These incubators are monitored, serviced, and maintained by the embryologists, who have specific training in the use of all of our equipment. Quality control checks are exhaustive and performed daily to make sure that all equipment is functioning exactly as specified. A change of even a half degree in temperature could cause problems in an incubator, so monitoring is continuous and detailed. The gases that are piped into the incubators (carbon dioxide and nitrogen) are filtered as they enter the lab to make sure that they are pure.
The laboratory is supplied with emergency power from a large dedicated back-up generator located at the side of our building. Should there be a major power outage this generator produces power for at least 36 hours before it needs additional diesel. Our generator has proved itself many times over during the years of rolling black outs and other power failures.
We continue to upgrade our facility and maintain the standards of excellence that makes PFC the choice of patients. At the time of writing, we are working toward installing a second back-up system in the event that there is a power outage and our back-up generator fails. We are also always examining new equipment that will allow us to offer new technologies to patients. As we move forward, we will report our latest developments at PFC in the Fertility Flash. In the meantime, come by and visit with the embryologists through the glass. We won’t wave at you, but we’re happy to see you checking up on us. We want you to know that your embryos are in good hands.
To schedule a tour contact one of our New Patient Coordinators at 888-834-3095.