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News | April 17, 2020

COVID-19 Rapid Testing

By Brandy Ostanik-Thornton

Bassett Army Community Hospital became the first healthcare organization in interior Alaska, and one of a handful in the state, with the ability to provide rapid COVID-19 testing as of April 6.

Recently authorized for emergency use in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cepheid GeneXpert diagnostic system provides automated results in an hour. According to Spc. Gabrielle Gavlick, a microbiology specialist at BACH, the rapid test can be invaluable to providers and patients in emergencies.

We had a patient going in for surgery and the provider wanted the patient tested before hand, explained Spc. Gabrielle Gavlick. “We were able to test the patient right here and have results quickly to ensure the safety of the patient and our staff.”

In addition to the GeneXpert system, the lab team has also prepared a second analyzer, which is also capable of performing the test in-house.

The staff worked for two weeks straight preparing to perform patient testing,” said Maj. Matthew Cooley, chief of pathology at BACH. “The majority of the effort was spent developing protocols and procedures as well as conducting staff training,” said Cooley.

Additionally, the lab followed federal regulations requiring test studies to ensure the system was running correctly and providing accurate results. “Preparing has been a lot of work requiring long hours so it’s been a bit overwhelming at times,” said Gavlick, “but it’s also rewarding because I love microbiology and being a part of the solution.”

Due to large demand worldwide for COVID-19 testing, BACH must compete with other healthcare organizations for the necessary materials to run the test. Because of this demand on supplies, BACH will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Alaska Section of Epidemiology guidelines for testing.
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