In 1988, Joanne Lannon, M.Ed, DLM, started South Shore Laboratory Consultants, a clinical consulting service for diagnostic laboratory compliance which includes implementation and oversight of federal certification and state licensure. Over the years, South Shore Laboratory Consultants has ensured the maintenance of facilities’ regulatory and quality systems in areas including biotech, genomic tests, cancer genetic tests and molecular genetics. With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, Lannon shifted its focus to helping laboratories achieve the necessary accreditation for urgently-needed COVID-19 testing. When Lannon’s business faced difficulty receiving CARES Act funds that would safeguard its vitally important operations, South Shore Bank stepped in to help.
Despite the fact that South Shore Laboratory Consultants is a critical part of our medical supply chain during this crisis, Lannon’s bank would not respond to her when she attempted to procure a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan. The United States Small Business Administration implemented the program to provide potentially forgivable loans so that small businesses can keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. “I was trying to get the funds so that I could pay my employees who are enabling frontline medical workers to develop and assay coronavirus tests, and the large national bank I’d used for decades would not assist me,” Lannon says.
On April 3rd, day one of the first PPP rollout, Lannon called her bank but could not access an actual person—only recordings. She submitted an application online and heard nothing back. She kept calling and emailing, and finally got a canned email response saying that she was not eligible because she had never taken out a business loan. They suggested that she contact her designated bank representative. “In 30 years, I never knew I had a representative,” says Lannon, “because no one ever reached out to me.” Lannon emailed the address she was given and eventually got a boilerplate response saying the bank had no information to give and was “doing its best.”
As the weeks went by, Lannon was up at night worrying. “Because of our role in facilitating crucial coronavirus testing, my employees and I could not afford to stop working. I was so upset that I emailed the White House and called State Senator John Keenan. I reached his assistant, Doreen, who was wonderful and told me to reach out to Margaret Laforest, Boston Regional Director at the Massachusetts Office of Business Development.” Laforest told Lannon she would contact South Shore Bank on her behalf.
Within five minutes First Vice President John Mannion called Lannon and, an hour later, she was approved for a PPP loan. “I was stunned,” says Lannon. “John Mannion and South Shore Bank’s team helped get the money into my account in less than twelve hours. No one there even knew me, but they took care of me. Meanwhile, I was a client of my national bank for thirty years and when I needed them, they weren’t there.”
South Shore Bank was committed to getting PPP loans to businesses, whether they were clients or not. South Shore Bank’s President and CEO, James Dunphy, Chief Operating Officer, Pamela O’Leary, and almost 100 of their employees worked around the clock to process PPP applications during the rollouts. “We had a primary goal: helping our community save jobs,” says Dunphy. Thanks to South Shore Bank’s tireless efforts, it has saved 12,000 jobs.
After her excellent experience with South Shore Bank, Lannon moved her business accounts there. “The service is outstanding. Nothing is ever an issue. When I reach out to them, I get a call back right away.”
South Shore Laboratory Consultants has a 100% success rate for maintaining compliance with Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, the College of American Pathologists and state regulations in its affiliated laboratories located in major medical centers and biotechs in the Boston area and throughout the country. Now, its dedicated employees are working to make sure that patients have access to coronavirus testing.
Lannon says, “I don’t know if the people at South Shore Bank can ever understand what they did for us by protecting our business. I want them to know their bank is pivotal in helping my small company continue to do big things.