Local hospital system gets faster, higher volume coronavirus testing devices

Premier Health's hospital foundations received a grant for a faster, higher volume coronavirus testing device.
Premier Health's hospital foundations received a grant for a faster, higher volume coronavirus testing device.

A local laboratory recently starting using high volume testing instruments so it can meet the coronavirus testing demand it is facing.

Premier Health’s hospital foundations received a grant from the PNC Foundation that along with other donors helped pay for the two new Lyra instruments at CompuNet that can perform more than 1,000 coronavirus tests per day.

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“For us, it was a game changer. It allowed us to go from a few hundred in a day to a few thousand in a day. So it is vital for southwest Ohio that we got these instruments,” said Nick Lair, System VP of Laboratory Services at Premier Health.

In a far cry from the week or more backlogs at the national labs in the beginning of the pandemic, CompuNet, a clinical lab serving Premier and other sites, can now use the additional two high-throughput PCR testing instruments so that there’s no or minimal backlog at the lab. The instruments can run more tests at a time and get faster results.

“If you remember back in March and April, or May, people were waiting 7, 8, 9 days for COVID results. Now people are waiting 12, 24 hours. Or eight hours. It has dramatically given us the ability to reduce turnaround time,” Lair said.

Lair said crucially, the high level of accuracy of the test results is still there with these new instruments.

“The accuracy is still there. It is above par in standards, because you do not want to sacrifice accuracy with speed ... Premier does not want to sacrifice one or the other,” Lair said.

Premier Health said in an announcement about the grant that faster testing can enhance the protection of other patients and staff and will enable Premier Health to significantly reduce the use of personal protective equipment around patients who have tested negative for COVID-19.

“In the absence of a vaccine, screening tests for COVID-19 are vital in ensuring our patients’ safety and peace of mind. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to PNC for their generosity in making the purchase of these testing machines possible,” Mary Boosalis, president and CEO of Premier Health, said in a statement.

Dayton-based Premier Health operates Miami Valley Hospital, Miami Valley Hospital North and Miami Valley Hospital South, Atrium Medical Center and Upper Valley Medical Center. The hospital network also operates drive-through testing sites in the region, including the drive-through test collection site at OnMain, which recently moved from UD Arena.

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