Medical Staff Pulse Newsletter

Core Labs Achieve Elite Certification


Pictured at the Six Sigma Certification at Cedars-Sinai are: Clare Lee, vice president of Service Lines; Kimia Sobhani, medical director of the Core Labs; Charles Hernandez, CLS I; Jerry Soto, CLS II;  Elynor Manimtim (front), technical manager of the Core Labs; Sten Westgard (back), director of Westgard QC; Vaishali Desai (front), CLS II; Peter Truong (back), technical manager of the Core Labs; Kacy Kurushima (front), CLS I; Jeff Smith (back), executive vice president of Hospital Operations and COO; Paula-Ann Salango, CLS II; Clarice Choy, associate director of the Core Labs; and, Kathy Clark, executive director of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

The Core Laboratories within the Department of Pathology and Medicine recently became the first clinical lab in the state to receive an elite designation for quality performance.

The Core Labs were awarded a Six Sigma Certification during a Dec. 18 ceremony at Cedars-Sinai, which was officiated by Sten Westgard of Westgard QC, the company that manages the Six Sigma Laboratory Certification Program.


Sten Westgard (center) awards Six Sigma Certification to Vashali Desai (left) and Kimia Sobhani of the Core Labs.

Six Sigma is a highly utilized, data-driven approach used by companies internationally and represents a level of reproducibility and quality for manufacturing and transactional processes that have attained an error or "defect" rate of less than or equal to 3.4 per million opportunities.

In order to obtain the certification, the Core Labs had to demonstrate that at least 20 test methods in operation had Six Sigma performance or better. Also, certification required that at least two lab leaders had to take special training modules and pass an exam. In all, seven members of the Core Labs successfully passed the training and tests, while 74 Core Labs tests were deemed to perform at Six Sigma levels or better.

The Six Sigma Certification project was led by Kimia Sobhani, PhD, medical director of the Core Labs, Clarice Choy, associate director of the Core Labs, Khalil Huballa, associate director of Lab Support Services, and Elynor Manimtim and Peter Truong, who are both technical directors at the Core Labs. Kathy Clark, executive director of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, also supported the goals of the program.

In addition to Truong and Manimtim, Six Sigma certified members also include: Vaishali Desai, CLS; Kacy Kurushima, CLS; Charles Hernandez, CLS; Paula-Ann Salango, CLS; and, Jerry Soto, CLS.

The Six Sigma Certification follows other recent honors for the Core Labs. Within the last two years, the Core Labs was recognized by the Medical Laboratory Observer as "Lab of the Year" and "First Runner-up."

Plans are underway to further strengthen performance at the Core Labs in the coming years as the team strives to increase efficiency, volume and capacity. By the end of 2021, the Core Labs are expected to implement more automation and have all new chemistry instruments.  

The Core Labs core run nearly 6 million patient tests per year on over 2 million specimens. The Core Labs has a menu of 120 tests that span clinical chemistry, hematology and basic coagulation tests. It is by far the highest volume laboratory division within the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

The clinical labs at Cedars-Sinai are all accredited by the College of American Pathologists, which is the gold standard for clinical laboratory accreditation nationally.