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Testing now at Upstate

Upstate now able to process its own COVID-19 tests, introduces rapid COVID-19 test

Upstate University Hospital is now processing its own COVID-19 tests, and expects to get results within 24 hours. A rapid test that can provide results in under an hour, is also now in use at Upstate for special circumstances.

The hospital began processing its own tests in the Department of Pathology’s Microbiology and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories on Wednesday.

In-house processing allows Upstate to reduce the amount of time it takes to get a test result. Previously, the hospital sent specimens to the state laboratory, Wadsworth Center, in Albany. The wait for test results from Wadsworth could be more than 48 hours.

Stephen J. Thomas, MD, chief of Infectious Diseases at Upstate, said the ability for Upstate to process its own tests and to use a rapid test is a game-changer.

“A faster testing process allows us to more quickly identify COVID-positive patients,” he said. “We could jump-start the entire process of notifying people of possible exposure and putting people in quarantine, thus reducing possible transmission of the virus.

“From a hospital perspective, a faster test would have an impact on the distribution and use of hospital resources, such as protective gear,” he said. 

Upstate began using a rapid test platform Thursday, produced by Cepheid, that has the potential of returning a COVID-19 test in less than an hour. Except for very special circumstances, rapid testing is only available to inpatients at Upstate University Hospital.

The public should continue to seek testing at Syracuse Community Health Center.

Upstate had been sending between 80 and 100 COVID-19 tests a day to Wadsworth for processing.