Medical lab gets OK to move into Cranford

Photo by Alyssa Lidman
Excell Clinical Laboratory President Marina Bellow and her attorney, Joshua Koodray, present their proposal to repurpose a warehouse to expand the company’s operations.

CRANFORD, N.J. — Another business intends to repurpose an existing warehouse in the southeast corner of the municipality now that the Cranford Planning Board has unanimously approved Excell Clinical Laboratory to take over the building at 95 Dermody St. at its Dec. 4 meeting.

The approval follows last month’s action in which Food Truck Inc. was granted the OK to take over a structure on Jackson Avenue in the light industrial area for its business, a food-preparation and delivery service.

Excell will be moving from its current Edison location, which consists of only 3,200 square feet, to the Dermody site, which is 12,000 square feet. The lab works with hospitals and doctors’ offices in the local area and Cranford is closer to many of these, as well as the Garden State Parkway.
“It’s a matter of being closer to the doctor’s offices,” Excell founder and President Marina Bellow said in a Dec. 5 interview with LocalSource.

Excell’s work includes molecular testing that allows doctors to see antibiotic resistance and sequence research, which tests for the genetic predisposition for certain diseases.

“It’s been a relatively smaller space,” Bellow said of the Edison facility. “It’s time for us now, going into new testing. We are building molecular labs, so we are expanding our menu. It’s time for us to have our breathing room. It will allow us, if needed, to hire more staff, we can bring new tests in-house.”

Excell Clinical Laboratory, which was founded in 2004 in Edison, aims to adapt to new research and technology at its Cranford facility.

“It’s an incredibly fast-developing field,” Bellow said. “It’s probably the future because personalized medicine is something we should be striving for. It’s very important to target each test for the needs of the person. This will give the doctor the best opportunity to provide the patient with the best possible care.”

The 1.18-acre site will include a warehouse, laboratory and office space. The laboratory will not be open to the public, and will utilize a courier service for medical deliveries and FedEx for regular deliveries. It will use the company Stericycle for medical waste. All delivery hours will be during the day, and there will be no deliveries at night, after 6 p.m., Bellow said.

There will be between 15 and 18 staff members in the building at any given time, though there could be as many 26 on staff. The lab will operate in two shifts, a day shift from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a night shift from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m on weekdays. Saturday hours will be from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m, and the facility will be closed on Sundays. Bellow said only six to eight people will be in the building during the night shift.

A diagram shows the site plan for the warehouse at the end of Dermody Street in Cranford that will be expanded into a laboratory and office space for Excell Clinical Laboratory.

Exterior physical changes to the property will address the parking lot, which will not be repaved, but cracks will be filled and the lot recoated and restriped.

“Our plans don’t call for repaving,” said Anthony Gallerano, the principal engineer at Harbor Consultants, at the Dec. 4 meeting. “Our plans, at this point really don’t call for anything other than restriping, but our recommendation is to fill the cracks and to sealcoat.”

While Harbor Consultants had originally intended to create 33 parking spaces at the site, but it can only accommodate 26, which is considered adequate.

“My question is, though, if there is any change in the dimension of the spaces, would that have a domino effect on the rest of your plan?” asked Deputy Mayor Ann Dooley, who sits on the Planning Board.

Gallerano assured her there would be no change.

Bellow said timing for moving the lab into the space will depend on the permitting process.
“I will be very hopeful that within the next four to five months, we will be there,” she said. “The only problem was this parking variance. The whole construction will be just inside, just walls and certain other things, it was just the parking spaces that they were looking at.”
Bellow said Excell is unique, with resources in 15 languages.

“When I immigrated from the Soviet Union in 1989, my son got really sick,” Bellow said. “I was a newcomer to this country. Then for many years, I was working at HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), a nonprofit organization helping immigrants. I was working there for many years as a director of community outreach. I was thinking I would always like to help people in the medical field.

“With my nonprofit background, I was looking for a lab that would be mindful of the community’s needs and some people who might be in some difficult situations.”

The laboratory will do house calls and provide resources for medical care for people experiencing financial difficulties, she said.

“We will go above and beyond just to make sure that our doctors are well informed about the new developments,” Bellow added. “We try to be cutting edge. All new testing, all new technology. The doctors are using lab work for 97 percent of their diagnoses. They are using laboratory tests.”