Sarasota Memorial Hospital's Laboratory Services recently received a much-awaited shipment of testing supplies to begin processing COVID-19 tests for admitted hospital patients.
The in-house testing allows the hospital to obtain results in less than two hours, 24 hours a day, rather than wait for results to be returned from outside labs. Depending on the capacity of the outside labs, results have taken anywhere from 24 hours to more than 10 days.
“It makes a huge difference, especially when we can turn it around so quickly," said Harold Vore, director of SMH Laboratory Services. "It allows us to conserve personal protective equipment, which is very important right now. It also reduces tremendous amounts of stress on the patient and the staff taking care of the patient. They no longer have to go into isolation if they are negative. It’s a big win for us and a big win for our patients.”
Due to limited availability of supplies, SMH is in-house processing tests for about 25 to 30 inpatients a day, with priority given to those in critical and time-sensitive situations. Sarasota Memorial continues to test only hospital patients; community testing is being offered by the Sarasota Department of Health, by appointment only (call 941-861-2883 for information on community testing).
SMH is using the Cepheid GeneXpert System, which features polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methodology that the hospital has been using for eight years. PCR tests work by detecting specific genetic material within the virus. The COVID test is an addition to more than 20 PCR modules used by hospitals worldwide to test for flu, strep, RSV, MRSA and other infectious diseases. The hospital will continue to use outside labs as well, when needed.
For more information and future COVID-19 related updates, please visit smh.com/covid19.