ELKINS — Davis Health System is expanding its capability to provide COVID-19 testing for up 64 people each day, a striking increase over the state-allotted number of tests they have had available since their onsite screenings began on March 21.
Nationwide shortages of necessary testing supplies has constrained U.S. hospital’s ability to screen proactively. Davis Health, like others, tested only persons who were symptomatic and/or met other criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But an aggressive effort made by the health system will soon allow the three-hospital system to expand community, patient and employee screening services.
“Thanks to outstanding collaboration among our diagnostic, medical and administrative teams, we have been able to secure the necessary supplies to develop our own SAR-CoV-2 assay, or PCR test for COVID,” said DHS Chief Medical Officer Catherine Chua, D.O.
Chua said polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the “gold standard” for COVID testing, and that the health system can now expand testing for patients and healthcare workers who have had primary exposure to COVID or who are symptomatic of cough and fever. They can also pre-operatively screen patients before medical procedures, and patients prior to nursing home admission. She added that the ability to aggressively test enhances the ability to contain and quarantine the virus by earlier identification of asymptomatic carriers.
Procuring in-house laboratory testing required an investment of more than $60,000. The process involved the purchase of testing supplies and submission of an Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“We consider this an essential service to residents of our communities,” said DHS President and CEO Vance Jackson, FACHE. “Widespread testing is critical to reopening Davis Health hospitals, which we anticipate happening soon. It is one of our most important tools in the fight to slow and reduce the spread of the virus.”
PCR testing at Davis Medical Center will begin the last week of April. The test can run multiple samples at once, with capacity for up to 64 tests daily. Test results are analyzed in two to four hours depending on testing volume.
“The rapid result time is important,” said Chua. “We can more efficiently identify infected individuals, guide their medical treatment, isolate when appropriate and, contact and quarantine people they may have exposed to the virus.”
She said an “uptick” in positive results may occur with greater community screening. “At first, we will likely see a small spike in the number of positive cases because the more tests we do, the more positives we’re likely to have. However, because we can identify and isolate more efficiently, we should be able to flatten the curve and be successful in lessening the transmission.”
The expanded testing will be available in the following ways:
To date, Davis Medical Center has performed 204 tests with three patients testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
For more information about COVID-19 testing at Davis Health System, call the Nurse Hotline at 304.630.3088.