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New relationship allows Bristol Hospital to get COVID-19 test results quicker

By The Bristol Press

April 03, 2020

Bristol Hospital is now able to turn around COVID-19 test results in one to two days for inpatients and its healthcare workers.

The hospital this week developed a new relationship with the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, where coronavirus swab results take 24 to 48 hours at a maximum, said Dana MacDonald, Bristol Health Laboratory Operations Manager.

“During these difficult and challenging times, we have struggled to get COVID-19 timely test results for our inpatients, healthcare workers and community members,” Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Health, said in a statement he prepared from home.

Hospital officials on Tuesday learned Bariws has the coronavirus. He is expected to work from home for the next two weeks, as he continues to lead the hospital remotely.

“Timely COVID-19 results help us treat patients faster, protect health care workers and reduce the utilization of critical personal protection equipment,” Barwis continued in his statement.

Faster turnaround times are critical in making sure Bristol Hospital has enough space for incoming patients who may have the virus, MacDonald said. A patient who is being kept in a negative pressure environment who tests negative for COVID-19 can then be moved to another location in the hospital where he or she does not need to be isolated.

“That’s so imperative at this time,” MacDonald said.

“That is so beneficial to take patients off of isolation quicker,” she continued.

Tests for inpatients had been taking about four to five days.

The relationship with the Jackson Lab also allows Bristol Health to have its own healthcare workers receive test results faster.

“We have to make sure we have staff in the hospital,” MacDonald said.

The Jackson Lab was able to reallocate some of its staff and, last week, had the ability to begin testing for COVID-19. Having a certain criteria for which tests go to them - healthcare workers and inpatients, for example - allows for faster turnaround times.

Bristol Hospital is still sending the bulk of its swabs that are taken at its outdoor testing station to the Quest Diagnostics Lab in Virginia, which, on average, turns results around in about three days, MacDonald said.

“We would inundate them if we sent all of our samples to (the Jackson Lab),” MacDonald said.

Bristol Hospital on Thursday took 88 swabs from patients at its outdoor, drive-through testing station. It has now collected swabs from about 1,107 people since the station launched on March 13.

Statistics released by the state on Thursday indicate 18 Bristol residents have tested positive for COVID-19; 10 Plainville residents have tested positive; three Plymouth residents have tested positive; and 27 Southington residents have tested positive.