Biz Buzz: Sale combines pathology firm, clinical laboratory

The leaders of two distinct medical laboratories — both women and longtime residents of the Central Coast — have decided to join forces.

Torrance-based Pathology Holdings — parent company of Pathology, Inc., whose president and chief executive is Vicki DiFrancesco of San Miguel — has acquired Central Coast Clinical Laboratories of Templeton, owned by Rona Griffin of San Luis Obispo.

Griffin’s company — with a location in Templeton and a drop site in Paso Robles — is a clinical lab that tests blood and body fluids, she explained.

Pathology, Inc., as an anatomical lab, specializes in tissues and testing on the cellular level.

Both labs, however, specialize in testing for women’s health and will integrate their complementary testing services to serve a range of medical providers, many of which include gynecologists, gastroenterologists, dermatologists and urologists.

Central Coast Clinical Laboratories will not change its name after the sale, but it will physically expand and hire new workers to adjust to additional tests offered and the greater volume of samples sent in from Pathology’s wider sales area, DiFrancesco said.

Pathology operates a second facility in Monrovia and tests samples from throughout the Northwest and Midwest. Central Coast Clinical Laboratories previously only served San Luis Obispo County.

Griffin will remain as president of her company.

Though she would not disclose profits, DiFran-cesco said sales for Pathology have grown 36 percent year over year as of February 2011, and revenue for 2010 exceeded $30 million. She said Pathology is seeking to aggressively expand on the West Coast.

Originally from San Diego, DiFrancesco moved to the Central Coast nine years ago. She commutes to the Torrance-based Pathology, Inc. from San Miguel, where she owns a vineyard that grows grapes for Tobin James winery. She has served as an executive at several lab companies over the past 30 years.

Griffin previously managed the lab at San Luis Obispo General Hospital for more than 20 years. She built her company “from the ground up” and opened it in 2004 after requests from the local medical community following the closure of General Hospital in 2003, Griffin said.

Griffin said both companies have had healthy independent operations, and her choice to sell her company was in response to a commitment to the local community to provide the best possible range of services. She declined to disclose the sale price for her company.

The two women, working in parallel businesses, did not meet until recently, at the urging of local acquaintances.

— Julia Hickey

AG hospital hires surgical director

Arroyo Grande Community Hospital has hired Jessica L. Gruendler as surgical services director for the hospital.

Gruendler, who most recently served as a director at Surgical Information Systems in Alpharetta, Ga., has been a nurse for 25 years. Additionally, she has served as a member of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses for 21 years, of which she is a nominee for the 2011 Board of Directors.

Gruendler holds three nursing degrees: an associate’s degree from the College of the Sequoias in Visalia; a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills, and a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Phoenix.

— Julia Hickey