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For former corrections officer, drug testing is lucrative business

Delores Langford collects samples for drug and alcohol testing. She started her business – Langford Testing & Consulting – in 1995, around the time federal guidelines were instituted for workplace drug testing. Born in Silver Creek, Langford credits the years spent as a corrections officer for her no-nonsense approach to sample collection. A retired licensed practical nurse, her goal is a safer and healthier workplace.

Langford, who is 67, is also certified as a state Board of Elections inspector and a fingerprint technician.

She lives in Fredonia and loves to travel with her family in their new Winnebago.

People Talk: Is drug testing a growing industry?

Delores Langford: Absolutely – by the day, by the minute – especially with all the meth labs popping up. People are figuring out how to build them with whatever they get their hands on at the drug store. Meanwhile, more companies are enforcing a drug-free workplace.

PT: How did you get into the sample collection industry?

DL: I was one of the first small companies in the area doing it. UPS was one of the first big companies to require drug testing, and I had already done screenings for them. As a nurse, I did life insurance physicals, blood draws and EKGs. I suddenly got this wild hair that I wanted to start my own drug-testing business. Anyone working in public transportation required drug testing. So did lone drivers who owned a semi that carried 26,000 pounds gross manufactured weight, or if your vehicle had a Hazmat tag. I had an interest in semis because my dad was a truck driver when I was a little girl.

PT: Is specimen collecting a lucrative business?

DL: I have a 34-foot Winnebago we use occasionally in the business. I live in a rural county with CARTS (Chautauqua Area Regional Transit System buses) that serves people in assisted-living centers in Clymer, Sherman, Mayville who need transportation. We test the drivers, some of them in the Winnebago.

PT: What if a person cannot produce?

DL: They have three hours by law. They have to drink 40 oz. of water. If they cannot void, I turn them over to the company’s medical review officer. They are now out of work subject to company policy until they are evaluated by a medical doctor.

PT: Are you a taskmaster in other parts of your life?

DL: Not as much as this because I can get called into court over this. You have to have good powers of observation. Documentation is very important, too.

PT: What is a common ploy used by those you test?

DL: If I’m working alone – I don’t have a male working with me – and I take them to the bathroom and instruct them to use the cup after I leave, they’ll try to pull their pants down to intimidate me. I look at them and say: “I’ve catheterized too many of these before. Don’t try it.”

PT: How do you deter tampering?

DL: I am a former correctional officer turned nurse who has seen everything. Testing protocol calls for the toilet seat to be taped over and faucets to be taped shut. In addition, a blueing agent is added to the toilet water. It’s what we call a blue room. If, after testing, they come back positive – and it’s a DOT (state Department of Transportation) drug screen – a return test must be ordered. It must be observed gender to gender. We also record the temperature of the urine. It must be within 90 and 100. If it’s not, we’ll throw it out and you’ll have to do it all over again – this time a viewed sample.

PT: Are positive tests confirmed?

DL: There are two vials sent for testing. One has 30 mL of urine; the other has 15. The 30 mL is the one that’s tested. First time out they take 15 mL out and test it. If it’s positive, they pull the other 15 and run a confirmatory. If confirmed, it goes to the medical review officer, who talks to the person who was tested to confirm the positive because that person may be on some sort of a medication, and the officer can reverse that positive to a negative. If that is not the case, we take the remaining 15 mL for testing at a different lab with the testee responsible for the cost – at least $500.

PT: What drugs are you finding?

DL: Cocaine and marijuana. The five drugs tested for are PCP, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana and opiates. I have heard that upstate they are having issues with suboxone but they can’t test for it because by union contract that is not allowed.

PT: What have you learned about people during the course of your collecting?

DL: People don’t have a lot of knowledge about the process, especially how prescription medications can effect the test results, and how that could affect their job. I do a lot of teaching. I actually had a man the other day walk out of a drug test. He thought he was going to lose his job. He was panicked because of the medication he was on.