SCMM tabs Chicagoland Transporter shipper


    A Grand Rapids laboratory has chosen a Chicago-area health care logistics company to handle the transportation of blood samples for clinical tests from patients in 18 states.

    The Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine is working with MedSpeed LLC of Elmhurst, Ill., according to MedSpeed CEO Jake Crampton.

    In October, SCMM’s parent company — Sequenom Inc., of San Diego — brought to market its first genetic test: the SensiGene Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Screening Test. The blood test determines whether a person is a carrier of the gene for cystic fibrosis and is more sensitive across ethnic lines than others on the market.

    MedSpeed’s job is to ferry the blood draws for the SensiGene test to the SCMM lab in Grand Valley State University’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Science for analysis.

    “MedSpeed is essentially a partner to Sequenom to provide its transportation services,” Crampton said. “So we are, in the broadest sense, responsible for getting the laboratory specimen that is generated in any of the geographies that Sequenom serves and getting it into that lab in Grand Rapids.”

    Sequenom indicated during its last quarterly report to analysts that it expects to launch two additional tests in early 2010, which would also be processed at the Grand Rapids lab. Those tests examine fetal DNA material in the pregnant mother’s blood stream for Rh factor and for gender. The company has indicated that it expects to grow to more than 500 employees in Grand Rapids by 2013.

    The 300-employee MedSpeed provides specialized ground transportation services to the health care industry, Crampton said. The company also is a registered shipper for air transportation.

    “We’re always working with our customers to refine and develop our capacities in a way that serves them well. … When you work closely with your customers to develop capacity, you find out those capacities have broader applications in the marketplace.

    “That’s true of our relationship with Sequenom. By virtue of doing what we believe to be good work for them, we believe we’ve developed capacities we think provide for needs of other people out in the market.”

    The core of MedSpeed’s business is serving health care organizations with same-day ground transportation, with operations in Chicago; Minneapolis-St. Paul; six locations in Wisconsin, including Milwaukee; Indianapolis; Cleveland; and Pittsburgh. Its newest and smallest operation takes the company east to the Philadelphia area, Crampton said.

    The company’s headquarters last year earned ISO9001:2000 certification.

    “The majority of the work that we do is integrated delivery for large health systems,” he said. That work includes moving pharmaceuticals, supplies and medical records, he added.

    “Every day, for example, in Illinois, we are transporting specimens that are picked up not too far from Memphis, through a hub-and-spoke network that eventually brings things back up to a laboratory in the Chicago area where they are tested,” Crampton explained.

    “When we’re working with a laboratory, the stuff that we’re moving is quite small, although it does have different transportation requirements regarding, typically, temperature. You have to keep some things frozen, have to keep some things refrigerated. You have to keep some other things — in fact, the majority of things — room temperature.”

    The majority of MedSpeed’s fleet is made up of either Dodge Sprinters, or Dodge Caravan, which are being changed over to Ford Transit Connect, and Ford Focus, which is being replaced with a “smattering” of different vehicles, Crampton said.

    “For all the pains the U.S. automakers have gone through, they’re really strong in commercial fleet, comparatively, to their competitors,” he noted.

    Crampton said that while MedSpeed has experimented with refrigerators and freezers on its vehicles, which range from minivans to trucks, the low-tech approach has proven to be the most reliable: coolers with dry ice or cool packs.

    Inside, the vehicles include ways to segment and rack the deliveries to keep items separated and protected, Crampton added.

    But the company is a registered shipper, allowing it to utilize air transportation services as well as ground transportation.

    “We are getting things on planes that are going into Grand Rapids,” Crampton said, but the company has no other presence or its own vehicles in Michigan.

    “MedSpeed, independent of our relationship with Sequenom, is interested in expansion to Michigan and will be pursuing that,” said Crampton, whose in-laws are from the Lansing area. “It’s not at all impossible or even unlikely that Sequenom may well play a role in that.” 

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