Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center may be located in the southern desert of Arizona, but the laboratory professionals continue to lean forward in acquiring, developing and maintaining their skills and equipment.
RWBAHC has recently employed a type of testing that enables the lab to test for COVID-19 in house. Real-time Reverse-Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing is used to amplify a sample of DNA that indicates a positive COVID-19 result.
As a prelude to launching in-house COVID-19 testing, Brandon Doty, Senior Microbiology Technician, led the lab team in establishing two new testing platforms in the Microbiology section. This included training on the instruments, validation to assess the instruments’ accuracy, and competency assessments on personnel that would be operating the instruments. Three lab professional are qualified to use the new equipment.
The testing platforms include two BioFire FilmArrays and one Cepheid GeneXpert4, both of which can run COVID-19 tests intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid form SARS-CoV-2.
Maj. Jammie Taylor, the lab officer in charge oversaw the installation and set-up of the testing instruments.
“Within two weeks of arrival, all instruments were operational and available for analysis due to the hard work and dedication of the lab team,” said Taylor.
FilmArrays can each test one patient sample per run, while the GeneXpert4 can test up to four samples at a time. These machines allow RWBAHC the capability to test multiple specimens simultaneously with a possible same-day turnaround time for results.
“I think they’ve done a great job. It all happened in two weeks and they far exceeded the deadlines for operational use,” said Taylor.