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There’s been nothing rapid about getting rapid tests for COVID-19. That’s changing — rapidly.

Local hospitals are finally starting to receive the testing supplies they need to get results quickly. Several are using a system from Silicon Valley-based Cepheid that promises results in about 45 minutes.

“Last week, we were able to process our first COVID-19 tests and can now process about 280 per day,” said Community Medical Centers spokesperson Mary Lisa Russell in an email.

“Last week, we were able to process our first COVID-19 tests and can now process about 280 per day for in-patients,” — Community Medical Centers Senior Communications Specialist Mary Lisa Russell

“When we receive our equipment order in full — in about three to six weeks — we can accommodate up to 2,000 tests per day for in-patients. This assumes that re-agents are readily available,” Russell said.

Other local healthcare providers are expecting to receive their supplies this week.

Test Offers Results in 45 Minutes

CapRadio reports that Cepheid’s “technology uses cartridges that are compatible with a popular piece of testing equipment in California, called the GeneXpert, which the company also produces. Many labs and hospitals already have a GeneXpert and use it to test for diseases including tuberculosis.”

Cephid President Warren Kocmond said in a statement that the company has “nearly 5,000 GeneXpert® Systems in the U.S. capable of point-of-care testing and for use in hospitals. Our automated systems do not require users to have specialty training to perform testing — they are capable of running 24/7, with many systems already doing so today.”

Saint Agnes Hospital Expecting Delivery

Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno is also equipped with Cepheid’s GeneXpert testing system and is expecting an imminent delivery of cartridges.

“The test kits are on schedule to come today,” said corporate communications director Kelley Sanchez, in an email.

“A validation has to be completed before we can start testing, so depending on how late they arrive today, we would be up and running either tomorrow or Wednesday,” Sanchez said. “We will be using the Cepheid GenXpert analyzer, which we currently use for flu testing. We will be adding the COVID-19 test kit to this analyzer.”

“Results should be turned around within an hour,” she said.

Madera Community Hospital Order in Process

During a teleconference with reporters last week, Madera Community Hospital’s CEO answered GV Wire’s question about whether the hospital had heard anything from Cepheid about getting cartridges for their test analyzer.

“Yes,” was the short answer.

“We’re excited about the idea that we might get those we ordered enough to do 240 tests.”Karen Paolinelli, Madera Community Hospital CEO

“We’re excited about the idea that we might get those we ordered — enough to do 240 tests,” said hospital CEO Karen Paolinelli.  She said she was just told the hospital should expect to receive its order later this week.

She added that Madera County has had a shortage of testing so the news was welcome. They’ll also share resources with other hospitals such as Saint Agnes, and Community Medical Centers, Paolinelli added.

Q&A With Kaweah Delta Medical Center Director of Community Engagement Deborah Volosin

GV Wire: What COVID-19 Testing Capabilities do you have?

We currently have three molecular platforms in use at our medical center.  This includes the BD Max, Abbott ID Now, and BioFire.

Do you have a way to test for coronavirus with some bigger machine at a faster pace?

Like many other hospitals, we are actively attempting to acquire test re-agents which are in very short supply. We have promising developments in the works for validation and implementation on at least two of our analyzers.

Are you doing anything with trials for a vaccine or some other therapy for coronavirus?

We are aggressively pursuing the most up to date proven modalities of therapy for patients with severe respiratory failure due to COVID 19. On a case-by-case basis, investigational therapies are being used or considered. We are not participating with any trials directly associated with the development of a vaccine.

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