New system to provide quick turnaround for COVID-19 diagnosis

Pam Schubert  TBW Newsgroup
RESTRICTIONS IN FORCE: Director of nursing Pam Schubert stands at the Mount Gambier Hospital's front entrance. Pictures: MOLLY TAYLOR

Pam Schubert TBW Newsgroup
RESTRICTIONS IN FORCE: Director of nursing Pam Schubert stands at the Mount Gambier Hospital’s front entrance. Pictures: MOLLY TAYLOR

LIMESTONE Coast health facilities will today have access to rapid testing of coronavirus samples for high risk or urgent cases.

SA Pathology at Mount Gambier Hospital now has the capability to diagnose COVID-19 patients within 60 minutes following the introduction of point-of-care testing.

But only 20 of these rapid tests will be available across the region each week given the global demand for testing cartridges, which are inserted into cutting edge point-of-care testing machines.

Non-urgent tests will continue to be air-freighted to Adelaide, which has a turnaround of up to 48 hours.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network executive director of medical services Dr Elaine Pretorius praised SA Pathology for sourcing these cartridges.

She said these tests would be used for people within aged care, the prison system, communities facing increased risk or people in hospital with pneumonia.

Dr Pretorius said this rapid testing would also be important ahead of medical transfers to Adelaide.

While these tests would be limited, regular testing would continue at the hospitals and GP clinics.

“I believe we will have enough rapid tests in the region given we have had no more cases in the region,” Dr Pretorius said.

But she said this supply would need to be improved if there was outbreak or cluster in the region.

Since March, more than 700 people across the region had been tested for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, health officials will consider implementing stricter visiting arrangements at Mount Gambier Hospital amid 680 people flowing through the health facility last week.

The number of visitors equated to six per patient over the week, which has sparked concern given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Pretorius said she was “really concerned” about the high influx of visitors.

She warned the hospital management could have to consider new measures to reduce these high numbers.

Dr Pretorius said temperature testing would continue at the entrance of hospital, along with a questionnaire about people’s movements and health status.

Visiting can take place between 1-2pm and 6-8pm daily, with only two visitors at any time and for 15 minutes only.