Q&A with Andie Halley
As chief operating officer of Reditus Laboratories, Andie Halley oversees daily operations at the full-service, Pekin-based laboratory company. She came to this position last year, right in the middle of the pandemic—just as the lab was reinventing itself as a full-service COVID-19 testing facility for the State of Illinois. Since then, Reditus has performed around two million COVID tests… and counting.
Halley grew up in Eugene, Oregon, before relocating to Iowa during high school. She earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science at Iowa State University and received her MBA from the University of Southern Indiana. In addition to her SPHR, SHRM-SCP and CHC certifications, she is a licensed nursing home administrator in Illinois.
She and her husband Shawn live in Atlanta, Illinois with their two boys, Blaine (16) and Cael (12). In addition, the family is currently hosting an exchange student from Austria, while another student from Germany will join them in August. Peoria Magazine caught up with Halley to learn more about her background and career path—as well as what it was like to take the reins in the middle of a pandemic.
Tell us about Reditus Laboratories. What tasks do you oversee as chief operating officer?
Reditus Laboratories is a full-service laboratory company with a heavy focus on molecular diagnostics. Reditus provides top-tier, accurate anatomical and clinical pathology services, including cytology, histology and molecular testing. My responsibilities as COO are to oversee the daily operations of our organization and establish policies that promote company culture and vision, with an emphasis on support operations and performance management. I work with the individual directors to ensure successful implementation and outcomes of projects and tasks, while ensuring our goals are achieved. Recently we have been able to hire a few key senior positions, and I am down to overseeing safety, HR, customer service, special projects/events, training and remote testing sites.
Describe your career path and how it has laid a foundation for your current position.
My previous positions all required high levels of critical thinking, the ability to manage teams, and difficult decision-making authority. Having that accountability has prepared me to coach and help guide the day-to-day functions, while working hand in hand with our team. As the former executive director of a nursing home, I understand what long-term care (LTC) facilities are going through during this pandemic, and as the former regional corporate compliance officer at UnityPoint, I know how important compliance standards are in the medical/service field—so I can help our employees and senior staff navigate that to ensure compliance standards are met and exceeded.
One of the most impactful positions I have held was as VP of non-clinical operations/corporate compliance officer at Hopedale Medical Complex. I joined that organization as assistant director of wellness. During my time there, I was offered opportunities to develop skills that I may not have been offered at other larger organizations. I gained knowledge and experience in healthcare administration, human resources, nursing home administration, compliance and much more. My prior work history has allowed me to jump into my current position here at Reditus sprinting—and when you join an organization that is growing rapidly during a pandemic, you must be able to jump in running.
How has Reditus Laboratories evolved as a company as a result of COVID-19?
We went from a relatively small, full-service molecular histology lab catering to podiatrists, to a full-service COVID testing facility in response to the pandemic—and we did it all while still servicing our current customer base. Because of our CEO’s entrepreneurial vision and ability to pivot on a dime, what started as assisting larger labs with COVID PCR testing grew quickly as we looked at the needs, assessed the voids and went into action. This allowed the organization to help bridge the gaps during the pandemic that other larger companies do not have the flexibility to do. Our ability to grow staffing and resources to accommodate COVID protocols was impressive. We expanded our capabilities and added additional PCR equipment so we could increase our daily testing output to meet the high demands. We were able to add staff quickly and efficiently while expanding our lab and remote site testing abilities.
We developed drive-up testing facilities standards within the state; deployed teams to LTC facilities, companies and state organizations to collect COVID specimens; and established statewide courier services to ensure the collected specimens were returned quickly to our lab so that we could have turnaround times within 24 to 48 hours. It was important to turn these results around quickly—because we knew that behind each of those specimens was a patient who needed those results.
What was it like to take over this position in the middle of a pandemic?
The biggest challenge was learning the business and the organization in a timeline that was far from normal. To be moved into the COO position during the pandemic—while our company was tripling in size to accommodate COVID testing demands—was both challenging and rewarding. I found myself facing challenges that I did not realize could exist until I was confronted with them. I simply had to navigate my way through them for the best possible outcome. All of this navigating was done as I continued to try to be a good wife to my husband (who is very patient and understanding with the demands of this new position), a good mother to my two very active children, a contributing member of my community, and a good host to our exchange student.
How has Reditus invested in new equipment or tools to detect new variants of COVID-19?
Our CEO is not only dealing with the immediate needs of the organization, but is continuously looking at the future and where he wants the company to grow. Our next rollout will include a FluV19 at-home test kit—this is very exciting and a unique test to the market. With one nasal swab specimen collection, we can test for COVID-19, Influenza A and Influenza B. More details on this test will be coming soon.
What is the most challenging aspect of your position? The most fulfilling aspect?
The most challenging aspect of the position is trying to stay ahead of the needs of our employees. They are the heart of our organization, so ensuring their needs are met is the most important thing. The most fulfilling aspect is seeing the success of the organization and knowing the teamwork that has gone into it.
What opportunities lie in the future for Reditus?
As the pandemic winds down, we will take advantage of all the additional growth we have had and the new equipment we have installed to expand our menu of services.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work? How do you relax?
Outside of work, I am Mom and for the next seven years my life revolves around my children’s activities. I believe in work-life harmony, so I volunteer as the Team Mom for my son’s football team and with the Booster Club for Olympia High School. I like to be involved in anything and everything that affects my children’s lives to ensure they have the best possible environment to grow up in. I also enjoy teaching a swim lesson from time to time. Indulging in couch time is an extreme rarity, but when I do, I enjoy watching Hallmark movies and my favorite TV shows, as well as sitting down with a good book or just visiting with friends. I am also on the zoning board for the City of Atlanta. Prior to that, I served on the Atlanta City Council. I love visiting the beach—whenever given the choice, our vacation destination is somewhere warm and sunny! PM