FORT STEWART, Ga. — Since the onset of the coronavirus, the Winn Army Community Hospital Laboratory has evolved services to help protect the force and community members by helping establish drive-up COVID-19 screening and testing sites, fever clinics, and by training and fielding new testing equipment.
Lt. Col. Roger Hosier, the Winn ACH lab officer-in-charge said, normally, their duty was to support the U.S. Army Medical Department – Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield healthcare network by providing timely and accurate results and optimizing the use of available resources. Their basic services included clinical chemistry, hematology, microbiology, serology, transfusion services and urinalysis.
But, that mission changed with COVID-19, Hosier said. For the past two months, their battle rhythm has adapted to help provide screening and testing for the coronavirus.
“During the onset of the pandemic, the lab did not have the capability to perform on-site testing,” Hosier said. “All symptomatic patient test requests had to go to the Georgia Public Health lab for testing and they were very limited on the number of tests per day that could be performed.”
As the pandemic grew, Defense Health Agency recognized the need for Winn ACH to have on-site testing capabilities, arranging for testing equipment to be delivered, along with supplies and training information.
Winn ACH gained the ability to test up to 48 samples per day with the arrival of the BioFire FilmArray analyzers. Within a few weeks, Winn received an additional machine called the GeneXpert, which expanded on-site testing to more than 400 per day.
First Lt. Brandy Warner, the deputy lab manager said the new capacity has helped decrease the average turn-around time to eight hours or less.
“COVID samples are received and logged in by our shipping department,” Warner said. “Once we have accountability, the sample is then taken to our microbiology section for testing. Once loaded, testing takes about 45 minutes to complete.”
Lt. Col. Michael J. Benson, Chief of Pathology at Winn, said his staff answered the call.
“I cannot be more proud of every individual in this lab,” Benson said. “Everyone, civilian and military, has sacrificed time and effort to meet the challenge presented to us.
If you need COVID testing, call the appointment line at 435-6633 to schedule a virtual appointment with your PCM either virtual or face-to-face.
Otherwise, the WINN laboratory is fully operational for blood work and in-patient testing. The phlebotomy room is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walk-ins welcome. No appointment is needed.