Urinalysis equipment maker Iris International Inc., whose stock took a 23 percent hit on a second-quarter loss aggravated by delayed orders, scored a win last week with a lucrative urinalysis equipment and supply contract.

The contract with Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings, whose LabCorp is the nation's second largest clinical reference laboratory, will initially generate $2 million for 26 of the Chatsworth-based company's automated urine microscopy analyzers. Iris is hoping it will lead to far more orders.

"This is a flagship account and we want everything to work perfectly," said Iris chief executive Cesar Garcia.

The machines will be installed in 13 of Burlington, N.C.-based LabCorp.'s busiest medical diagnostic facilities around the country between now and the end of the year.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the machine, the iQ200 Sprint, can perform up to 101 tests an hour and sells for around $80,000. In addition, Iris will receive ongoing revenue to service and supply the labs with disposable supplies for the machines.

Garcia said he was proud that his small company had won the LabCorp contract away from larger competitors, including the supplier the laboratory had used for several years. He added that Iris has other multi-site, multi-unit deals in the pipeline, and might even expect additional orders from LabCorp if the initial rollout goes well.

Shares of Iris, which had dropped to a 52-week low of $8.70 on Aug. 3 following the quarterly report, had been recovering and gained another 5.4 percent to close Sept. 14 at $10.55 on news of the contract.

It's a Wrap
Dramatic photographic advertising wraps on L.A. Metro buses are a common sight, but not often does a third-party ambulance decide to pay for one to promote one of its clients.

But this week Glendale Adventist Medical Center and its new patient transportation coordinator might launch a trend when they unveil a splashy new look for two non-emergency ambulances that will be dedicated to serving the hospital.

The project is the brainchild of PRN Ambulance president Avo Avetisyan, whose Los Angeles-based company keeps 28 ambulances and 15 wheelchair vans busy with contracts at 12 area hospitals.

Avetisyan, who launched the company with his brother Peter six years ago, said that when the hospital put out a proposal for bids, he saw an opportunity to move his 150-employee company beyond being a glorified shuttle service for discharged patients needing a ride home or a lift to a doctor's appointment. He hopes to one day have similar arrangements with other hospitals.

What PRN Ambulance offered Glendale Adventist was a means to bring order to an often chaotic ambulance dispatch process. Instead of nurses running down a phone list until they found an available private ambulance, they call a PRN dispatcher who will either dispatch one of the company's vehicles, or check with a network of other providers who have agreed to take referrals.

"There was a time when we might have ambulances from eight or nine companies here and we might not know which one had been called for which patient," said Lynn Kirman, the hospital's associate vice president for nursing, who also manages patient transportation. "Now we have a dedicated dispatch lounge for patients, one-call coordination of trips and these beautiful ambulances."

Hospital staff worked closely with Avetisyan on the wrap design for the ambulances, which will showcase different messages on both sides of each bus, said Kim Milstein, director of physicians and business development.

Nursing staff are particularly highlighted, with a group posing in front of the hospital's new patient tower, scheduled to open next year. With the region's chronic nursing shortage in mind, another scene features two more nurses and prominently displays the hospital's job recruitment hotline.

Respected hospital doctors, such as radiation oncologist Dr. Albert Mak and family practice specialist Dr. Narine Arutyouian, also agreed to have their faces plastered on the vehicles.

This & That
San Fernando-based Precision Dynamics Corp. last week said it has acquired two wristband identification product lines from one of its Illinois competitors, Hollister Inc. Production of Hollister's Ident-A-Band, used in healthcare settings, and its WrisTicket brands for crowd control will move to Precision's plants in San Fernando and Mexico. A company spokesperson said the company expects to add 45 employees, most of them in San Fernando. The purchase is expected to close later this month, and terms of the deal were not disclosed. Both companies are privately held Los Angeles-based outpatient imaging center operator Primedex Health Systems Inc. said Sept. 14 that it had acquired four centers in the San Francisco, Fresno, Corona and Irvine California markets, bringing the number of its facilities to 61.

Staff Reporter Deborah Crowe can be reached at (323) 549-5255, ext. 232, or at dcrowe@labusinessjournal.com .

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