The ALH Lab is Open 24/7 - 365 Days a Year

Fortunately for residents of Athens and surrounding areas, Athens-Limestone Hospital Laboratory Services are among the most advanced in the nation. Backing the phlebotomists, known as lab personnel who draw blood or collect urine specimens, are the people who are behind the scenes who are a host of advance degreed medical technologists, medical technicians and lab assistants.

As a member of Health Group of Alabama Lab Network, Athens-Limestone Hospital Laboratory Services benefits by having the added resources of Huntsville Hospital Laboratories and the Mayo Clinic's Mayo Medical Laboratories.

Testing is divided into two areas:

Anatomical Pathology which is the study and evaluation of tissues, frozen sections,i.e, everything that comes from surgery, and;

Clinical Pathology which encompasses all tests outside the surgical area. Under this heading, the laboratory is divided into six specific areas:


Generally a blood sample is provided for these tests that include glucoses, electrolytes, liver function tests, hormone tests and drug of abuse testing.


By using automation, blood cells are counted and differentiated. This area is critically important to monitor a patient's hemoglobin when bleeding; to monitor white blood cell counts during infections, etc. Coagulation and Urinalysis testing are also performed in this area.


Several tests or studies may be needed to determine whether your blood clots properly. Most often, these tests are made prior to surgery, but they may also be required to monitor long term therapy of certain heart or vascular diseases.

Prothrombin time (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT) are two tests that are commonly ordered. Along with platelet counts, these coagulation tests may alert your physician to the presence of liver disease, factor or vitamin deficiencies, and a variety of other conditions that affect the ability of the blood to clot.


Units of blood are cross-matched for compatibility for possible transfusions. A good stock of all types of blood is available when needed. It is not as simple as getting the patient's type and just giving him/her blood. Testing has to be performed to determine compatibility, in order to prevent possible reactions.


Urine tests provide important information about the function of the kidney and a variety of metabolic disorders. A sample may be taken once or at regular interval over a longer period of time to evaluate the success of treatment or improvement in the clinical condition. Urine tests check a variety of things. These include the following:

Sugar: High levels may mean diabetes, infection or other metabolic disorders.

Ketones: Abnormal levels may mean diabetes or other conditions.

Blood: Its presence in urine may mean kidney problems, urinary infection or other abnormalities.

Bilirubin: High levels may mean liver or other problems.

Protens: High levels may mean kidney, gland or heart problems, diabetes, poisoning or other diseases.

Hormones: Urine tests are commonly used to detect a hormone that indicates pregnancy or metabolic efficiency.

Drugs: Urine is the specimen of choice to check for illegal drugs.

Microorganisms: Bacteria, parasites and yeast cells in the urine are signs of infection.


It is important to know if you might have an infection. Some infections are self-limiting, but others may be life threatening. Your physician may order cultures from a variety of sources that include throat, blood, urine, respiratory secretions, or wound drainage.

Culturing biological materials will identify the cause of the infection and, most importantly, provide the physician the information about the best antibiotic to use to treat it. Your physician may give you an initial course of antibiotics if he/she suspects a bacterial infection (antibiotics are not effective against viruses). The results from the culture will provide specific information about the best antibiotic choice for continued therapy, if it is required.


Micheal Estremera, BS, MT(ASCP), CIC, Laboratory Manager
(256) 233-9131