Employers test for drugsPublished 9:34pm Thursday, December 22, 2011
CASSOPOLIS — It made sense for Lori Whitmyer to locate West Michigan Drug Testing at 125 S. Broadway in September 2010 given her county seat hometown’s proximity to such customers as Cass County Family Court, the Department of Human Services and Adult Probation, as well as the Council on Aging.
But Whitmyer, bringing clinical experience in a laboratory setting (medical assistant, Elkhart Clinic, 10 years; South Bend Medical Foundation phlebotomist and lab tech) to becoming a small business owner in something about which she is passionate, also has clients in Dowagiac, such as Lyons Industries and C. Wimberley.
Employers increasingly turn to drug testing to insure safe, efficient workplaces with fewer turnovers, less absenteeism and reduced work-related accidents.
Whitmyer, who also provides drug-testing services to Berrien County Probation, said Thursday, “For employers, it’s a very good program to implement because drug-testing their employers gives them breaks on insurance” because there will be fewer thefts and claims.
Lori’s older sister, Karen Smoots, owns West Michigan Education and Referral Services in Portage, instructing court-mandated alcohol and substance abuse classes.
Five hundred to 600 tests a month combine on-site rapid testing (a five-panel urinalysis which screens for methamphetamine, cocaine, THC (marijuana metabolite), opiates and benzodiazepines, for $15; or $25 for a lab-based confirmation test.
“We do saliva and hair follicle testing as well,” Whitmyer said. “Once a drug enters your body, it gets into your bloodstream. If you use marijuana extensively for six months, it will show up in your hair. Urinalysis is preferred because it shows up almost immediately in your system.”
The instrument dipped into the sample cup for rapid results resembles a home pregnancy test. Two lines, negative. One line, positive.
“If there is a positive result, we send it out to a lab,” Redwood Toxicology Laboratory in California. “False positives happen less than 3 percent of the time,” she said.
Department of Transportation tests truck drivers and are overnighted to Quest Laboratories, which has numerous locations.
Before Whitmyer’s business existed, the sheriff’s office provided less extensive testing.
“A lot of personal referrals come in through attorneys who want it for a divorce to show in court they’re clean,” she said. “I’ve gone out to people’s homes with the drug team to test as they’re getting arrested, but it’s not like ‘CSI.’ Or, you have to go to holding at the jail.
“I grew up here, went to school here and lived on Pokagon Highway my whole life,” Whitmyer said.
“I never noticed that realm of bad things that went on in this area. I’ve never done drugs in my life. I don’t have the first clue what that feels like. We see people come in here at their lowest.
“It feels really good to know some people are doing miraculously well and have jobs again, like the article on Essence Romans. She tested here for a year. That’s very rewarding because they come in so frequently, sometimes three times a week.”