One of the first testing labs in the state to offer COVID-19 testing has expanded to more clinic locations and is now supporting testing in long-term care, shelter and other settings by deploying teams of paramedics and nurses to do onsite collection. This expansion is vitally important to bring testing to underrepresented populations in Hennepin County and reduce transmission and outbreaks in long-term care facilities, group homes and other types of congregate care settings.
“This information will help us identify where the virus is, how prevalent it is and where it’s going,” said Dr. Glen Hansen, Director of Hennepin Healthcare’s Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Diagnostic Lab.
When it began testing for COVID-19 in March, Hennepin Healthcare was one of the largest laboratories at the time to offer testing for the virus. More than 200,000 tests have been secured and Hennepin Healthcare now has the capacity to test more than 1000 patients daily – helping to meet to Governor Tim Walz’ request that 20,000 daily tests to be completed in Minnesota.
Hennepin Healthcare offers testing to symptomatic patients from the community at its Viral Screening Clinic in downtown Minneapolis, as well as at its clinics in Whittier, Brooklyn Park and Richfield. Testing is also conducted on patients admitted to HCMC and the lab processes tests for several other healthcare systems, community clinics and correctional facilities.
“We’re getting rapid turnaround from our lab – literally getting results within 6-7 hours, which is crucial not only for screening asymptomatic inpatients, but also for those with symptoms whose course of care is determined by this diagnosis,” said Hansen.
The lab also has capability to conduct rapid COVID-19 testing that turns around results within 67 minutes, and it’s the only hospital in the Twin Cities to offer a full respiratory panel that can rule out 16 viruses (including COVID-19).
Hansen says that the ability to simultaneously detect COVID-19 while examining other circulating respiratory viruses will become “even more important if the outbreak extends past the summer into the traditional respiratory virus season.”
The Microbiology Laboratory at Hennepin Healthcare provides a full range of services including diagnosis of bacterial, viral, mycotic, and parasitic infections, as well as extensive testing and reporting of antimicrobial susceptibility results.