MEDFORD, Ore. — This week, Asante quietly rolled out a new weapon in the fight against new coronavirus — the ability to quickly process test samples on-site without having to send them away to a lab.
According to Asante public information officer Lauren Van Sickle, the new rapid testing began on Monday. For the time being, this form of testing is only available for hospitalized patients suspected of having COVID-19.
The testing process is not instantaneous, but it is capable of returning a result within 24 hours or less at the hospital's in-house lab.
Van Sickle said that the new process is important so that medical staff can quickly determine whether a patient with severe symptoms has the virus — allowing them to begin the most effective treatment, alert the local health department, and begin the process of investigating recent contacts of the patient.
Still, the vast majority of tests will still be done with the accustomed method — taking a swab sample and sending it off to a lab elsewhere for processing. Asante has had a drive-up sample collecting station for weeks now, which has helped to ramp up those conventional tests.
According to Sharee Burns with Monarque Health, Providence does not yet have rapid testing on-site. However, the medical provider recently brought online its central lab in the Portland area for rapid testing, and it is capable of turning around hundreds of results within a day of receiving the samples.