On March 16, 2020, the day its labs reported their first COVID-19 end result, COVID-19 was barely a phrase in UR Medication’s vocabulary.
Now the well being system, which has a presence all through the Finger Lakes area is reporting over half-a-million COVID check outcomes dealt with by its labs, with assist from new expertise. The expertise has doubled UR’s capability for COVID-19 polymerase chain response (PCR) testing.
“Since we reported our first ends in March 2020, we now have carried out half 1,000,000 for our sufferers within the area, which we’re so happy with, contemplating many obstacles we’ve needed to overcome,” mentioned Communications Affiliate Bethany Bushen, throughout a Zoom name Friday with the media. “We’ve additionally launched some new expertise at our central laboratory. which is positioned on Bailey Highway in West Henrietta.”
The Thermo Fisher Amplitude was developed in 2020 in response to the pressing want for high-volume COVID PCR testing in medical labs. UR Medication went dwell with the Amplitude at its Central Laboratory in West Henrietta in late January 2021. The brand new automated check platform runs a PCR check, which is the molecular check used to detect the virus that causes COVID. The lab has gone from testing as much as 2,000 samples per day to as much as four,000 per day.
Dr. Dwight Hardy, director of microbiology at UR Medication Central Lab, mentioned that in January and February 2020, UR began, in earnest, the laborious work of implementing of testing for the SARS virus that causes COVID-19.
“It was on March 16 of final 12 months that we supplied our first check end result for a affected person. There was quite a lot of laborious work, quite a lot of lengthy days and evenings, into the nights, to arrange us for that,” he mentioned. “We went from having zero checks, quickly — every succeeding month … possibly about 10,000 (checks) a month to 20,000 a month to 30,000 a month.”
Hardy mentioned UR peaked, in November, at 80,000 checks per 30 days.
“These 80,000 checks had been for sufferers in Monroe County in addition to our surrounding counties. We carried out diagnostic testing for our surrounding counties all through the Finger Lakes area … all the way down to mainly the Pennsylvania state line,” Hardy mentioned. “After the brand new 12 months, everyone knows, issues began to chill down and we are actually testing roughly 40,000 per 30 days. Everyone knows there’s a decrease positivity charge — fewer sufferers being admitted to hospitals with COVID, so it’s comprehensible that testing would lower, actually, to some extent.”
Nonetheless, on the identical time, Hardy mentioned, UR Medical Middle made a big funding for the well being system in new expertise. The brand new expertise permits UR if the necessity ought to come up, to extend its capability by at the least double. That will permit UR to carry out three,000 to four,000 checks per day.
“This present day, we all know that this virus peaks and wanes and every so often, we expect we all know which route we’re headed,” Hardy mentioned. “It does certainly seem we’re headed into higher territory … however on the identical time, all I’ll say is we’ve been stunned earlier than. Within the occasion that issues ought to improve, I feel we’re ready, ought to there be a necessity in our neighborhood.”
Melissa Allen, program administrator for URMC Pathology & Laboratory Medication mentioned it’s laborious to imagine it’s been a 12 months since UR Medication first began testing throughout the UR Central Lab.
“It’s superb it has taken a pandemic to shed the sunshine on such vital work that our technologists and all our workers within the labs do behind the scenes to contribute to affected person care in our neighborhood,” she mentioned. She mentioned she is proud to have managed operations over the past 12 months along with the UR medical groups, making certain the well being system has been in a position to present testing for the neighborhood.
“Our new testing platform offers us the power … to extend our capability. It additionally takes a number of the strain off our technologists and the groups which might be working diligently behind the scenes to get the work accomplished by offering some semi-automated processes.”
Allen mentioned she is happy with the work our groups have executed.
“I’m very glad that we had been in a position to convey this new expertise in and be on the forefront of with the ability to reply to any future testing wants,” she mentioned.
Hardy mentioned the pandemic has upset the availability line in lots of areas.
“The identical has been the case for diagnostic testing. Going again to final 12 months, to be able to meet testing calls for, testing necessities, we now have to make use of as much as 5 completely different check platforms. The explanation we now have to do this is nobody vendor may provide us to the extent we wanted. The expertise that we now have is extra automated,” he mentioned.
Allen mentioned, “What which means for the neighborhood … People in our neighborhood are in a position to obtain a PCR-based end result inside roughly 24 hours.”
“Throughout the early days of the pandemic and the height of the pandemic, it was difficult to get turnaround instances inside a few days and, in some circumstances, some labs had been unable to supply outcomes for upwards of seven days,” she mentioned. “This new expertise, though we now have been in a position to meet the turnaround instances in the neighborhood, these provide strains have been challenged for numerous platforms and this actually does permit us to not solely present a better quantity of testing, however inside a really fast turnaround time.”