Covid-19 testing keeps MCHHS staff busy
BELOIT – The MCHHS Laboratory staff works hard on the front lines and behind the scenes in all healthcare related diagnoses, but COVID-19 has significantly increased their workload.
Jo Albert, MCHHS Laboratory Director, sayss, “Labs are doing everything to eke out whatever additional capacity they can during this COVID crisis, but are limited by supplies and in some cases test kits. MCHHS Laboratory works behind the scenes as essential workers to provide COVID collections. If you feel you need to be tested, please contact your local physician for an evaluation and orders.”
The MCHHS lab, which consists of nine employees, is fortunate to have the ability to process in-house COVID-19 testing. “Our hospital laboratory staff has invested in two different gold standard PCR analyzers for COVID testing and put in many hours for collection, preparing the samples for testing, running tests and submitting required paperwork for tracking COVID cases. Samples are prepared in an enclosed, ventilated biosecurity cabinet to prevent contamination. COVID testing is in addition to the normal testing provided for our patients and physicians. We are very fortunate to have the equipment and physician support to provide these testing capabilities to our patients,” Albert said.
Both PCR analyzers use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to make millions of copies of a target piece of DNA that detects the genetic material of a virus in a sample from the respiratory tract. PCR takes a very small sample and amplifies it to a large enough amount to detect if present. PCR allows for rapid and highly specific diagnosis. These tests can be ran and results available in approximately 45 minutes.
Most COVID-19 collections are completed outdoors to help limit possible exposure to staff, patients and visitors inside our facility. When collecting a COVID-19 sample, lab staff must put on the appropriate PPE (disposable gown, mask, face shield and gloves). After collection, the lab employee must remove their PPE appropriately, as to not infect themselves or spread contamination. Many Covid tests are collected and ran the same day. In addition, they test approximately 80 staff and residents weekly.
"We are proud of our lab staff for their hard work and would like to thank them for the daily risk they take by collecting and handling specimens. We ask the community to follow safety measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing to protect themselves, as well as, our hard working healthcare workers so we can continue to provide high quality care, close to home."