“Early in the pandemic, it was unclear which manufacturer would be able to supply quality testing at scale, so we ran with them all. As various supply chain issues have emerged, maintaining multiple testing platforms has been a successful mitigation strategy.”
Northwell Health has spent more than $30 million since the beginning of the pandemic on COVID-19 testing equipment and lab supplies, including a variety of new automated machines this summer to ensure both diagnostic and antibody testing will continue as part of a rapid and uninterrupted process in the event of another surge. The lab processes tests for 19 Northwell hospitals, 52 urgent care centers and more than 800 outpatient facilities – along with the needs of strategic partners – across Long Island, New York City and the Hudson Valley.
“Our goal has been to deploy at scale as much testing as possible, as quickly as possible, so we were among the first labs to implement, validate and evaluate performance characteristics for most of these tests,” said Dwayne Breining, MD, executive director of Northwell Health Labs. “Early in the pandemic, it was unclear which manufacturer would be able to supply quality testing at scale, so we ran with them all. As various supply chain issues have emerged, maintaining multiple testing platforms has been a successful mitigation strategy.”
As part of the largest investment in COVID-19 testing by a hospital-based lab in the nation, Northwell Health recently purchased high-throughput diagnostic testing analyzers from Hologic, Roche and Abbott, as well as cartridge-type tests from Genmark, Cepheid, Diasorin, Biomeme and Abbott. Northwell also is using best-in-class, in-lab, “wet” antibody chemistry tests from Roche, Ortho, Abbott, EuroImmune, Diasorin and others.
Northwell Labs is currently processing about 7,000 molecular nucleic acid amplification tests and an additional 3,000 antibody tests per day with the capability of increased volume. Labs is also focused on eliminating false positives, which at this stage of the pandemic has the potential to close classrooms and schools, by developing a two-step algorithm for retesting isolated positives versus clustered positives.
“Most testing today is for screening purposes, so we need to mitigate the potential effects of sporadic false-positive results,” said James Crawford, MD, senior vice president of laboratory services at Northwell. “These are more likely to occur now that the New York area positivity rate is below 1 percent.”
Northwell Health Labs is committed to providing ongoing testing for the duration of the pandemic, no matter the length or severity. Anyone in need of a COVID-19 test can get one though Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, Northwell Health Labs patient service center (with a doctor’s prescription) or via in-home testing through the LabFly app.
About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, nearly 800 outpatient facilities and more than 14,200 credentialed physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 72,000 employees — 17,000-plus nurses and 4,500 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners — are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We’re training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.