VCU Health develops test for COVID-19

VCU Health develops test for COVID-19
VCU Health (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Commonwealth University Health System announced Wednesday that it has developed an in-house COVID-19 test for inpatients during a pilot program.

The in-house test will reduce wait times and will in turn help reduce the risk of coronavirus being spread in the community, VCU Health said.

Testing during the pilot program will mostly be available to patients that require hospitalization who present severe symptoms of COVID-19 and is dependent on supply as materials for the tests remain limited nationwide.

“Being able to determine whether a patient does or does not have COVID-19 quickly is of critical importance,” said Christopher Doern, Ph.D., director of microbiology at VCU Health who oversees the implementation of new technologies in the VCU Health clinical microbiology laboratory. “Being able to do that in our own laboratory will be a game changer in how we manage patients with potential COVID-19 symptoms.”

The expedited testing will help medical staff to more efficiently and effectively determine patients’ courses of treatment.

“The ability to produce, administer and get results from tests — all within the walls of our academic medical center — allows us to provide quality care while maintaining a safe environment in our hospital,” said Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., director of the VCU Health Infection Prevention Program. “We can promptly rule out COVID-19 for certain patients, enabling us to appropriately tend to those patients’ medical needs, immediately address the urgent needs of those facing the novel coronavirus, and provide our team members more peace of mind.”

VCU Health will continue to develop in-house testing capabilities.

“One of the most incredible things is that, 10 days ago, this test didn’t exist,” Doern said. “We designed this test from the ground up in less than two weeks, a process that under normal circumstances would take a year or more. It speaks to the extraordinary work of VCU Health medical technologists and microbiologists in the face of a global pandemic.”

In addition, VCU Health continues to give tests in collaboration with the private and public state health labs for all patients presenting COVID-19 symptoms, whether they require hospitalization or not.

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