New testing equipment at Shelbyville Hospital could provide faster COVID results

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 10:12 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The wait for COVID-19 test results could become shorter in Shelby County with new technology at a local hospital that speeds up the process to under an hour.

“Knowing your test result, that’s the first thing to arm yourself in fighting anything is knowledge,” hospital lab director Jason Niceley told WAVE 3 News.

Shelbyville Hospital was able to acquire a Cepheid brand gene analyzer in December, and it will soon be able to conduct PCR nasal swab tests on-site. UofL Health is preparing the coronavirus testing device for a tentative rollout next week.

“So, with this test, it allows us to, we give a respiratory sample, and we could provide a positive or negative COVID result within 45 minutes,” Niceley said.

Previously, patients had to wait 24 to 48 hours for test results as samples were sent to University Hospital in Louisville for testing.

Niceley also explained the speed of the new testing device will not sacrifice accuracy as PCR has been shown to be nearly 99% accurate, in contrast with “rapid” antigen tests, which can give false-positive results.

Kentucky Hospital Association President Nancy Galvagni told WAVE 3 that testing for COVID at smaller hospitals is crucial.

“If you know very rapidly if someone is positive, you can get that patient into treatment very quickly,” she said. “There’s a lot of new therapies that have been approved. If someone is early in the course of the disease, they can get an infusion of these antibodies and it has been very successful in keeping patients out of the hospital.”

Niceley said the new testing device will be used to increase testing as demand for tests rises, but the tests will not be available to everyone right away. He said that eligibility would depend on the symptoms of the patient and the care they require.

“Right now, we have some problematic [cases] where it causes patients to wait longer based on their results for different levels of care. So, we want to address those needs so patients do not have a delay in care because of the COVID results when they are symptomatic,” he explained.

Niceley could not specify how many tests the hospital would run on the gene analyzer each week as it depends on received allotments of testing supplies.

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