Testing ground: NorDx moves high-tech Scarborough lab into refurbished Orion Center

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SCARBOROUGH — Machines hum and busy workers hustle past, carrying samples in small, plastic trays.

Other bar-coded samples make their way on tracks through a series of blue tubes on their way to the waiting hands of a technician.

Centrifuges whirr, separating blood samples while robotic arms cap and uncap samples to prepare them for different tests. All around, technicians are bent over microscopes examining samples.

Everything appears to work seamlessly at the new NorDx laboratory in the former Orion Center in Scarborough, even though the machines have only been in the lab for slightly more than a week.

“It took two years of planning and engineering to make this move,” NorDx Chief Executive Officer Stan Schofield said. “It went so well because we have such great people here.”

The administrative and bio-medical testing facility moved from the Maine Medical Center building on Campus Drive off Route 1 to the refurbished Orion Center, further south on Route 1. (A care center, where patients go to have their blood drawn, remains in the Maine Medical building.)

Before moving to the Campus Drive location in 1997, NorDx was in Portland, and was known as Northern Diagnostic Laboratories, a company that was established in 1976. When MaineHealth, the parent company of Maine Medical Center, reincorporated the company as a nonprofit, it shortened its name to NorDx.

Over the years, the building on Campus Drive became a specialized cancer care center. NorDx moved to the new MaineHealth building to facilitate the expansion of cancer care on Campus Drive.

NorDx will continue to process the lab work for the Campus Drive building and uses its own couriers to transport the samples.

“About 70 percent of all diagnostics involve testing in a lab,” Schofield said. “There’s a CSI for crime; we’re the CSI for diagnostics.”

NorDx processes body fluids, like blood, and tissue samples, running a wide variety of analytics on them, from allergy tests to cancer diagnostics. 

“This is the most technologically advanced facility in the northern Northeast,” NorDx sales and marketing director Scott Taggersell said. “You’d think something like that would be in Boston or New York, not here in Scarborough, but it is.”

Taggersell said what makes NorDx so cutting edge is not only having the newest technology, but also the staff with years of experience and knowledge.

“It’s a wonderful benefit to the community,” he said.

NorDx shares the Orion Center, now called MaineHealth Professional Park, with Maine Medical Partners’ information technology and billing departments.

The location has a storied past. Once host to a retail center including the discount store Mammoth Mart, which went bankrupt in the 1970s, Dead River Co. owned the property for a time and tried to bring the Stop & Shop grocery store chain to the plaza. When that deal fell through, Hannaford Bros. purchased the property, then sold it to MaineHealth in late 2007.

Now, after a lengthy reconstruction effort, the property is back in use. The parking lots are full and the movers are finishing up.

Several times during an interview, Schofield emphasized his “talented, smart, capable” workers as the main reason for NorDx’s success. He said the company, which employs 640 people, is happy to be in Scarborough.

NorDx executives considered locations in other towns, but in the end, Schofield said, they decided the Orion Center was the best fit.

“The employees like living here, they like the area,” Schofield said.

He said he is partial to the area, too, because he and his family live in Scarborough.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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Medical technologist Julia Gaskins loads samples into an allergen testing machine at the new NorDx facility at the Orion Center in Scarborough. NorDx is nearly finished moving its testing lab and administrative office into the newly refurbished building.

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