As much as we might want to, 2020 has been a year that none of us are likely to forget. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused global social and economic disruption, cancellations and postponements of events, travel restrictions, and lockdowns across the world. Today, the pressure on our Canadian healthcare systems has never been greater with daily case numbers continuing to rise, increasing hospital admissions, and ICU bed occupancy reaching critical capacity levels.
The pressure on our medical laboratories to gear up and increase testing capacity has been enormous. At the time of writing, there are now 83 laboratories licensed to perform COVID testing in Ontario, with more to come, and testing capacity and turnaround time are at record levels. IQMH staff wish to thank our laboratory colleagues for all your amazing work under very difficult circumstances!
Here at IQMH, we have been working closely with the Ministry of Health Laboratory and Genetics Branch, Ontario Health, provincial scientific and technical working groups, and laboratories across the province to support the need for increased COVID testing capacity while maintaining high quality standards. In that regard, we have processed more than 70 scope additions or related accreditation assessments, and supported new external quality assurance approaches, including the development and implementation of our own IQMH Proficiency Testing program.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we managed to complete the vast majority of our planned accreditation assessments, most recently using newly developed remote assessment techniques. We are grateful to our staff technologists, the more than 100 assessors and the accreditation advisory panel members who contributed to the success of our medical laboratory accreditation program in 2020 and adapted to accommodate new assessment methods. I would also like to thank Ontario laboratories for their cooperation in scheduling, and sometimes rescheduling, assessments at short notice.
In addition to accreditation activities, we have been able to deliver all our proficiency testing programs, largely on schedule, thanks to our dedicated team of consultant technologists and the tremendous support we have received from all our scientific committee members.
In April, we assumed accountability for the Echocardiography Quality Improvement (EQI) program, formerly with CorHealth, and we have been making steady progress throughout the year with our newly established team of staff, sonographers, and cardiologists.
While providing our services with most staff working virtually from home, we also moved forward with our integration with Accreditation Canada, successfully re-branding all IQMH accreditation programs under the umbrella of Accreditation Canada Diagnostics. This is a significant change for IQMH, and we are very excited about the future as we work together more closely.
Finally, on behalf of all the staff at IQMH, I would like to thank you all for your ongoing support of IQMH (and now AC Diagnostics) and wish you and your families a joyous holiday season and a happy new year.