La Porte Hospital can now process tests on-site for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Until now the hospital has been using test kits to collect a specimen from patients suspected of having COVID-19 and sending the specimen to outside labs for analysis and results.
The hospital has now obtained testing kits that work with the hospital’s FDA-approved testing equipment. In-house testing means patients can get results faster, typically within 24 hours as compared to the two - six days experienced when using most other labs. The hospital is also performing testing for other hospitals in the area.
While this capability will certainly provide test results more quickly, the ongoing shortage of testing kits - swabs and reagents used to analyze the tests, limits the quantity of testing that can be performed. Therefore, some patients’ tests will continue to be sent to outside labs for analysis.
To be tested, patients must have a physician order. The ordering physician will receive the test results within one hour and then the physician’s office will communicate the results to the patient. Because the COVID-19 virus is a public health issue, the hospital shares results of the tests with the Indiana State Department of Health as well as the La Porte County Health Department.
“This was a concerted effort on the part of our pathologists and lab leadership to rapidly implement our own test analysis,” said Ashley Dickinson, Chief Executive Officer of La Porte Hospital. “Performing the analysis in-house will allow physicians in the community to more rapidly identify and therefore isolate patients who test positive.”
While testing is necessary to identify the virus it is not the only way to prevent its spread. It is important for every individual to continue practicing social distancing, wear masks in public, and practice diligent hand washing to reduce spread. To learn more about controlling the spread of the virus visit coronavirus.gov or cdc.gov.