South Texas Laboratory is a branch of the Department of State Health Services Laboratory Services Section and is headquartered at the Rio Grande State Center in Harlingen, Texas. The Laboratory is dedicated to provide high quality accurate test results to residents of the Rio Grande Valley as a Public Health Laboratory for the Local Health Department and Region 11 as well as a Clinical Laboratory for the Out-Patients of the Rio Grande State Center (RGSC) and Health Departments and Community Clinics in Region 2/3, Region 4/5, Region 6, Region 8, and Region 11. The South Texas Laboratory operates as a full service laboratory encompassing General Clinical laboratory testing, Bacteriology/Mycobacteriology, Public Health Bacteriology, Consumer Microbiology, and Emergency Preparedness.
The Clinical Laboratory provides services to patients for RGSC Out-Patients and 11 Health Service Regional Clinics. Sub-sections of the Clinical Laboratory are: Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Immunology, Urinalysis, General Bacteriology, and Parasitology. The Clinical Laboratory serves as support for medical educational programs at The University of Texas Brownsville Medical Laboratory Technology Program and The University of Texas-Pan American Medical Technology Program as well as the main function of patient care in the DSHS organization for South Texas.
The Mycobacteriology Section provides tuberculosis (TB) testing services to the four county area — including local hospitals, Immigration Services, and Region 11 Clinics — and is well known for expertise in TB testing with immediate access to Medical Authorities on new cases and their contacts. The Mycobacteriology Laboratory also serves as the Bi-National TB Laboratory and has been instrumental in training Mexico border state laboratories TB technologists to assist in the elimination of tuberculosis through the DSHS Bi-National Program. South Texas Laboratory continues to serve as the International training center of excellence for TB testing by assisting in the control of tuberculosis on the Mexico-US Border. The TB Section participates in a special study with the Tuberculosis Trial Consortium (TBTC)/CDC-Study 29, entitled "Evaluation of Rifapentine-containing Regimen for Intensive Phase Treatment of Pulmonary Tuberculosis." The Mycobacteriology Laboratory participates with The University of Texas Brownsville-School of Public Health on grant projects, which will continue involvement at a higher testing volume and with a more focused training curriculum.
The Public Health Bacteriology Section is the Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Laboratory for DSHS. Services, which include Syphilis Serology, are provided for Hidalgo County Health Department, RGSC Out-Patients, Regional Clinics, and local hospitals in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties.
Consumer Microbiology provides water testing for Public Water Systems in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The Water Laboratory also tests vended and bottled water samples for Manufactured Foods Division and provides water testing for individual wells and construction samples. The South Texas Laboratory is accredited by the NELAC Institute (TNI) for the microbiological examination of drinking water.
The Emergency Preparedness section responds to Public Health emergencies and health threats, such as food outbreaks or biological agents for bioterrorism testing, which includes Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis, Francisella tularensis, Brucella spp, and pandemic influenza, for the Rio Grande Valley. The Emergency Preparedness section also performs Influenza Surveillance Testing. South Texas Laboratory Emergency serves eight counties, local hospitals, and reference laboratories and is a member of the Laboratory Response Network.
South Texas Laboratory’s professional staff is made up of competent Medical Technologists, Medical Laboratory Technicians, Microbiologists, and Laboratory Technicians. A highly trained dedicated support staff assists in all areas and provides client support services. Laboratory activities are directed by a licensed Laboratory Director and certified by a board approved Health and Human Services. The Administrative Laboratory Director is a registered Medical Technologist. General Supervisors are all registered Medical Technologists and have extensive laboratory experience.
South Texas Laboratory is accredited by the Commission Inspection and Accreditation of Laboratories of the College of American Pathologists (#21448-01) and is accredited by the Joint Commission Accreditation of Hospital Organizations and approved to provide clinical services under the Medicare Program (CLIA #45D0503753).
DSHS/South Texas Laboratory
1301 S. Rangerville Road
Harlingen, TX 78552
Aurora Martinez, M.T. (ASCP), B.S.
Laboratory Branch Manager
DSHS - MC1917
PO Box 149347
Austin, TX 78714-9347