Precious Cargo and Millions of Miles: BayCare’s Courier Services Team

February 23, 2024
Bob Tate, a courier who joined BayCare in 2020, gears up to deliver lab specimens.


Every year, BayCare’s dedicated courier services team racks up over 3 million miles on the road. That’s enough mileage to circle the Earth over 120 times.

As a vital component of laboratory services, the team primarily transports lab specimens. However, their responsibilities extend far beyond that. On any given day, couriers might find themselves transporting anything from essential documents to urgent hospital supplies to conference meeting poster boards. 

Bob Tate, a courier who joined BayCare in 2020, shed light on the intricacies of their work. 

“I'd say the one thing that most people don't know about the courier business is what’s involved in it all,” Tate explained. “Our fleet operates around the clock, every single day of the year. We have pickups all over different parts of the county and it takes a village to keep all this together.”

The operation involves over 100 courier drivers, along with several dispatchers and supervisors. Couriers travel in 68 company vehicles all over Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties. Delivery orders denoted as “STAT” are to arrive at their delivery location within an hour, and routine lab specimen orders are scheduled to arrive within three hours.

Tom Smith, another courier, emphasized the unpredictable nature of their department’s work. 

“You never know exactly what each day is going to bring,” Smith said. “I love getting out in the community every morning and interacting with the different parts of the health system.”

With 130 department courier routes to manage, dispatchers meticulously monitor traffic conditions, offering efficient alternative routes when needed. When orders are time sensitive and involve a large distance to travel, couriers will work together to meet halfway, so the order is delivered promptly.

“I work with an absolutely incredible team,” Smith added. “When we see each other out on the road, we will wave ‘hello’ to each other, and you know that is your brother or your sister out there working alongside you.”

Couriers receive training in several temperature-control methods, such as the use of dry ice, for safely transporting specimens. They carry smart devices with an integrated software system that provides them with important information about their orders in real time.

“About 80% of all medical decisions within the health system are based on lab specimens that we help transport,” said Bill Hoel, BayCare’s courier services manager. “I tell people when they start in this department, treat what you’re transporting as though it’s an item with potentially life-saving information for your mother, your father or your child. Every single delivery is important.”