JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) — In just four weeks from the initial idea, Trinity Health System is on its first day of in-house rapid testing. Starting April 20, the hospital will be performing the molecular RT-PCR test for detection of COVID-19 virus in the microbiology laboratory located at the West Campus of the health system.

Trinity Health System is the only hospital in the area to offer in-house testing. This service is a relief to health-workers that were waiting for results from Pittsburgh.

Test turn-around time is quite long. We sent the testing to Pittsburgh or reference laboratories. It used to take 5 to 10 days to get the results. Now the tests improved to about two to four days, but that’s still too long for the patients and doctors to wait.

Dr. Himanshu Doshi, chairman and medical director of the Trinity Health System laboratory

Now they take drive-thru samples, but they don’t ship it to Pittsburgh.

You’re not getting tested at the drive-thru clinics anywhere locally. It’s really just an evaluation. They’re checking your temperature or whether you’ve been around a person or not, and then the test is actually collected and brought over to us.

Theresa Clark, Trinity Health Laboratory Director

So, for the last three to four weeks, the lab has been hard at work making sure the trials are to CDC and FDA standards. The in-house test has an accuracy of 95 percent. And, it’s quick.

The whole process takes about three to four hours.

Dr. Himanshu Doshi, chairman and medical director of the Trinity Health System laboratory

The medical professionals say this first-in-the-valley test was only made possible through Franciscan University‘s help. Found in college bio labs, the university’s equipment uses florescent detection for RNA viruses, like COVID-19. The test will be run on PCR equipment on loan from Franciscan University.

It’s a difficult test to run, it takes an hour to process the samples. A three hour turnaround is much better than two days. We can run 12 patients at a time, we have the expertise of Franciscan professors, Dr. Daniel Kuebler and Dr. Joseph Pathakamuri, and they were invaluable in helping me.
It was the first time I had done this type of testing. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Diane Harris, Medical Technologist, Trinity Health Microbiology Supervisor

Right now, it’s hard to even get the kits that were in short supply to run the studies for approval.
So everyone is overjoyed for this collaboration.

It’s sort of a bridge. Because eventually they’ll be able to get the equipment. It’s sort-of plugging a gap so we don’t have to wait two or three months for that.

Dr. Dan Kuebler, Professor of Biology at Franciscan University, Dean of Natural and Applied Science

Two big institutions in this community have come together to help everybody out. Rather than waiting two, three, four days when you can get the result in one day, that’s awesome.

Dr. Himanshu Doshi, chairman and medical director of the Trinity Health System laboratory

The tests will only be performed if patients meet criteria for COVID-19 testing established by the Ohio Department of Health.

Trinity Health System runs a full-service, state of the art laboratory which is accredited by the CMS for intermediate and/or high complexity testing.It is perfect timing for this announcement as next week is National Laboratory Week honoring professionals serving in our Nation’s laboratories. 

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