By ROBERT BAKER / Item Staff Writer
MANNING, S.C. — More than 100 people turned out for a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the site that will serve as headquarters for Select Laboratories LLC come early spring.
The company, which provides laboratory services to rural physicians and their patients, opened in Manning in April 2007 and currently operates with 50 employees at the F.E. DuBose Center in Manning in a space provided by the Clarendon County Development Board.
“This is a real exciting time for us,” said John Merritt, the company’s vice president of sales and business development. “It’s a realization of a dream that was not without a Herculean effort on everyone’s part. We’re pleased and proud to be here today celebrating this 10,000-square-foot facility that will house our new lab.”
Gov. Mark Sanford said the company’s expansion is a “compliment to the people of South Carolina.”
“This is a reminder that, in the divided times we live in, that there can be private-sector solutions in closing the disparity that exists between health care provided in rural areas and in (urban areas),” he said.
The lab, which is managed by Synermed Select Partners Inc. of Greensboro, N.C., has about 200 customers throughout South Carolina, Merritt said.
“We can turn results around in a 24-hour period, but most are available in 12 hours via the Internet,” Merritt said. “With everyone connected electronically now, that enables us to get results faster.”
Merritt said the lab provides everything from blood test analysis to metabolic, diabetes and thyroid tests.
“We provided hematology services, CBCs (complete blood count), metabolic testing, and we analyze tests for thyroids, lipids and diabetes,” Merritt said. “Many of our lab results are used by the physicians as a base for prescribing pharmaceuticals for the patient as well as how the doctor deals in treating the patient. We’ve helped bring access to rural South Carolina through the major efforts of physicians in the area.”
He said moving from the current facility — a 3,500-square-foot area — to the new location would provide more space to employ more people.
“I would imagine that once we get moved, we will have room for more people,” he said. “We hope to be operational in early spring.”
Rep. Cathy Harvin, D-Summerton, said the company’s investment in Clarendon County is appreciated.
“In our state, we have 20 percent of our citizens who have no insurance, and 60 percent of those individuals are employed,” Harvin said. “(Those who are employed) either cannot afford or not offered insurance by employers, and we are now at a time where this is likely to worsen rather than improve.”
Merritt said that offering lab services to rural communities can lower overall costs to doctors and patients.
“This groundbreaking is yet another positive sign that our efforts to improve the business-friendly environment in South Carolina as well as spur economic growth in both cities and smaller communities alike are succeeding,” he said. “Select Labs’ mission to provide health-care services aimed at reducing costs and increasing access speaks to this larger notion of quality of life, and for that, and the high-paying jobs that they have brought to Clarendon County, (he thanks) them.”