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Beaumont Health Lab, others processing limited number of COVID-19 tests

A healthcare worker process a COVID-19 test at Beaumont.
Beaumont Health

Update: 12:36 p.m.

The University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor announced Thursday that it has also launched an in-house test for COVID-19. No details were provided on the number of tests available.

Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak is now processing COVID-19 tests on site. Though the staff is prioritizing which patients tests are processed first, they say they have the capacity to run several hundred tests a day. Henry Ford Health System has also announced an in-house test.

Original post: March 18, 2020 1:24 p.m.


Beaumont is using a vendor-developed test that is in compliance with the FDA and CDC guidelines, and plans to bring in the actual CDC test. Beaumont reportedly processed over 500 tests on Tuesday alone. Henry Ford says it has the capacity to test up to 100 tests a day, and up to 200 a day by next week.

Dr. Matthew Sims is an infectious disease physician at Beaumont. He says the turnaround time to get a test processed is a couple hours in house, which he says is quicker than sending it to the state lab for processing.

“Right now, there is some prioritization as to what gets done first, but as I understand it, we’re meeting our current demand. That could change in an instant. If ten thousand people decide, ‘I heard Beaumont is doing great!’ and head over to get tested, we’re not going to be able to meet that demand.”

The policy right now is to prioritize patients who are in the hospital and in the emergency room over the stable patients who have been sent home. The tests for those patients will be run as well, but those tests might get delayed over the seriously ill patients. Beaumont also offers drive-thru screening for people before they get tested.

“We are doing a screening protocol before we actually do the test, but a lot of people want to get tested. Remember, it is cold and flu season, so a lot of people have a cough and fever right now. Most of them are still not going to be COVID-19, but it’s hard to tell them apart until you actually test them.”

Dr. Sims says it’s been all hands on deck at Beaumont to get the tests developed and ready for processing, as well as to meet the demand for testing, which he says has been heavy.

“Everybody is contributing, I think everybody realizes this is a situation unlike anything we’ve ever faced before. Everybody is trying to do their part. From the frontline doctors, to the nurses, to the people who are handling food services, to the people who are doing the day-to-day work to make sure the hospital stays running.”

This includes making some big changes to how things work around the hospital.

“We’ve done everything we can to minimize non-essential medical procedures from taking place. Non-essential surgeries are going to be put off, non-essential procedures are going to be put off, non-essential overnight stays in the hospital for anything are going to be put off.”

The all hands on deck approach includes himself, he says.

“Everyone is doing their part. Right now, my part is seeing patients in the hospital and trying as best as possible to bring the things in we’re going to need for them.”

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Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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