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Susquehanna Life

Geisinger Channels Donated Funds to Increase Testing Capacity

Jul 09, 2020 09:42AM ● By Erica Shames
The increased availability of testing is a key factor in defeating COVID-19 in our
communities, and as Geisinger works to test patients in central and northeast Pennsylvania, the laboratory in Danville has been working around the clock to give accurate and quick results.

To help protect our communities and to equip the laboratory with the necessary tools to do so, Geisinger used donated funds to purchase a new Hologic Panther Fusion System. The new equipment aligns with existing instruments to increase capacity and efficiency for the Geisinger laboratory.

“The Panther system has received FDA approval for emergency use for epidemiologic testing of respiratory samples for COVID-19,” said Raquel M. Martinez, Ph.D., system director of Microbial Diagnostics. “What that means is that it gives our laboratory the ability to participate in testing of high-
risk patient populations, such as nursing homes and others that may be required of us as the state reopens elective surgery and we return to clinic openings.”

The new equipment increased Geisinger’s testing capacity by more than 70 percent, a jump from the processing 5,528 tests per week to 21,278 tests per week. That larger capacity provides greater access to testing for the community, allowing for faster diagnosis and effective containment and contact tracing.

Having the higher testing capacity also allows Geisinger’s caregivers to quickly rule out possible COVID-19 exposure, saving PPE for inpatients.
In addition, the Panther instrument is robotic and automated and records and stores the results in the laboratory information system, according to Donna M. Wolk, Ph.D., division director of Molecular and Microbial Diagnostics and Development at Geisinger.

“This equipment saves us time by saving our laboratory scientists from needing to manually type in results so they can instead they review the results for validity. The instrument is low-maintenance, low-waste and provides high accuracy and reproducibility,” Dr. Wolk said.

The cost for this equipment is nearly $300,000, of which $250,000 was offset by philanthropic funds. To donate to the fight against COVID-19, please visit geisinger.org/FightCovid or call 800-739-6882.

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