LECOM Debuts Rapid COVID-19 Testing
System generates real-time results in 20 minutes or less
It's long been said that haste makes waste — but when an infectious outbreak makes its way into a long-term care facility, haste helps save. COVID-19 can be especially devastating to vulnerable senior populations housed within these facilities, which makes a quick and coordinated response critical.
One of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve is testing; the more (and more quickly) you know about where and through whom the disease is spreading, the more effectively you can contain it. LECOM Health is hoping to do just that following the acquisition of Erie's first COVID-19 rapid results testing unit, the $18,000 Cepheid GeneXpert Xpress System. Making the announcement was Dr. James Lin, president of the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging, with Pa. State Senator Dan Laughlin, Pa. State Representatives Parke Wentling and Kathy Rapp, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, and Erie Mayor Joe Schember in attendance.
The GeneXpert scans for viral RNA fragments present on swab specimens using a self-contained cartridge system, with the capacity to process four results simultaneously. With each scan taking as little as 20 minutes, the unit can produce an accurate snapshot of COVID-19 transmission rates among long-term care facility staff and residents within 24-48 hours of initial detection. And in being classified as CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments)-waived equipment by the CDC, the GeneXpert is unlikely to return false negatives or positives, even if the operator has minimal training.
A promotional video from Cepheid from YouTube
The GeneXpert will be on standby for LECOM Health's three skilled nursing facilities, which have already implemented precautionary measures such as restricted/prohibited visitation, employee screenings, and a dedicated COVID-19 response unit at the LECOM Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to isolate and treat patients in the event of an outbreak.
LECOM Health is not just seeking to look after its own, however — Dr. Lin also announced the healthcare system's intentions to apply for a $12 million grant through Pennsylvania's Senior Protection Act. Pending approval, LECOM Health would establish a Regional Response Health Collaborative that would provide a combined 171 Northwestern Pennsylvania skilled nursing facilities, personal care homes, assisted living homes, and behavioral health alternative housings with clinical, operational, and administrative support toward preventing and/or managing outbreaks of COVID-19. The jurisdiction would encompass 13 counties.
Confirmation of approval is expected by July 1.
Matt Swanseger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org