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ARCpoint Labs offers local, turnkey testing expertise

August 16, 2012
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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Growing network offers staff, know-how, and array of testing resources for individuals, employers, and programs
ARCpoint Labs offers testing expertise at 54 locations nationwide

Founded in 1998, ARCpoint Labs (Greenville, SC) got out ahead of the curve, riding the nation’s growing awareness of alcohol and drug abuse problems and its rising demand for testing options. And today, through a growing network of some 55 locally-operated offices, ARCpoint Labs offers the staffing, processes, collection methods, screening tools, and expertise that enable employers, organizations, and even individuals to tap into a sound, reliable, and cost effective testing capability.

“We fit the bill for a lot of small to medium size companies, as well as individuals,” says Byron Berry, ARCpoint Labs' VP of national sales and marketing. He notes that ARCpoint Labs’ core services are built around drug screens to meet federal DOT standards, but have since grown into a wider range of drug, alcohol, DNA, wellness, and other tests, plus other employment-related services.  Along with these tools, ARCpoint Labs also offers the know-how required to help employers and organizations develop and promulgate best-practice screening and testing policies in support of safety, risk-management, compliance, or wellness objectives.

Depending on the local market, Berry adds that ARCpoint Labs locations have developed specializations in a variety of areas, including justice-involved individuals; persons involved in treatment, sober-living, or follow-on programs; and monitoring programs for impaired professionals.

Berry asserts that the cost and staffing structure of typical ARCpoint Labs offices enables them to compete effectively with other local testing options, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices. Typically, he notes, these alternatives do not offer testing outside of normal business hours, nor can they send staff to employer sites to conduct screens on employees working multiple shifts.  Such on-site testing capabilities are a cost-saving option that is preferred by time-conscious employers.

Common and custom test panels

Each location offers a range of common and custom screening panels, staff that are trained and certified in a range of collection protocols, and options for confirmation testing in the event of a “non-negative” test result.  In addition to urine testing, many ARCpoint locations also offer phlebotomy services, which enable individuals to access blood tests needed to monitor medical concerns on a self-pay basis, or as a convenient alternative to testing at a doctor’s office or hospital.

With valid samples, the screening process goes quickly for urine tests. In many states--depending on state laws--technicians may employ a dip or "rapid" test using one of several, prepackaged test panels or a custom panel developed with input from the employer.  The most popular screen is a five-panel urine rapid test for common drugs of abuse, followed by a ten or 12-panel that adds often-abused prescription medications, including opiates and benzodiazepines, for example.

“When we get a non-negative test,” Berry says that, per prior arrangements with the employer or organization, the donor’s urine sample is forwarded for confirmation testing. These tests, as well as tests on blood draws, are conducted by nationally-recognized lab-test partners that include Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp, and Alere Toxicology.

While employers in “right to work” states are not required to assist prospects or employees that test positive for substances, Berry explains that local ARCpoint labs staff—either in the set-up for the testing program, or with the finding of a positive result—are often tapped by the employer/client as a de-facto resource for suggestions about or referrals to appropriate treatment resources.  

“They’re the ‘heavy’ when there’s a finding”

Organizations that involve a third-party testing organization like ARCpoint Labs realize another benefit as well, say human resources professionals. One, the HR manager at an Akron, Ohio area auto-parts distributor who manages a ‘100% annual employee testing program’, says that working with a third party enables an organization’s managers and employees to maintain a more professional, “arms-length” relationship on the job.  

“They’re the ‘heavy’ if there is a finding, and I don’t have to ‘go there’ in terms of talking about or getting involved in the intricacies of the [testing] process,” he explained, noting, “ It’s a lot easier to maintain a professional relationship with people when you don’t have to address personal things like that.”

Jeff Graham, the owner and manager of the new ARCpoint Labs office in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, took me on a quick tour of the facility and demonstrated some of the more common drug screening processes and tools, as well as the details of the sample custody process.   

“You take this,” he said, pointing to a sample collection cup, “go in there [a nearby restroom], produce the sample and bring it back to me [the technician].  The first thing that happens is you witness that this is your sample. Then, I am going to decant a portion to a smaller container, identify that container as yours, and let you witness that with your initials.” In the last step, also witnessed by the donor, Graham picks up a handheld sensor and takes the temperature of the sample.  If that sample isn’t within the specified range,” he explains, “there’s the potential for adulteration. It’s no good.”