CHRISTUS Health offers ‘game changer’ antibodies test for COVID-19
Published 12:10 am Friday, April 17, 2020
CHRISTUS Health announced it is offering a new screening tool to some patients, as well as doctors, nurses and other CHRISTUS associates on the frontlines to learn who has been infected with COVID-19 — AND — who might now carry protective antibodies.
“CHRISTUS Health is a safe place to receive care, with high-reliability processes and procedures for infection prevention and mitigating the spread of illness,” said Dr. Sam Bagchi, CHRISTUS Health’s chief clinical officer. “Beginning today, we are adding the unprecedented additional layer of antibody screening to help survey for asymptomatic COVID-19 infections among patients and caregivers.”
For the last several weeks, the team has quickly assessed the test’s reliability and then deployed the kits to CHRISTUS hospitals and ambulatory sites across the United States and Latin America.
The test produces results in approximately 10 minutes and has been validated internally for screening for COVID-19 infections.
“CHRISTUS is the first in our communities, and is leading the nation by using advanced COVID-19 antibody testing to screen people in our facilities to determine if they have had a COVID-19 infection in the past or have one now,” said Dave Benner, vice president of clinical ancillary services.
The country’s leading scientists believe antibody-based tests to be essential in the war against COVID-19, CHRISTUS officials said.
“This would be a game-changer in restarting parts of the economy more quickly and safely,” Dr. Harvey Fineberg, a professor in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote in an April 1 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.
CHRISTUS will first begin using the test on associates and caregivers on the frontlines. The rapid screening tool will also be used on hospitalized patients that the clinical team believes may have been infected with COVID-19, as well as patients who are scheduled for an urgent surgery.
“People should not put off urgent and emergent procedures, and should continue to seek the care they need,” Bagchi said. “We know that, regardless of COVID-19, heart attacks and strokes have not stopped. We need to be able to treat people who urgently need to be in an operating room. With the availability of an antibody test, we can test anyone who comes in for an urgent surgery. This will allow us to reliably know if a patient has COVID-19 before they start having symptoms or might normally be tested.”
This innovative screening solution is in an addition to the ongoing PCR tests many providers, including CHRISTUS, are able to perform. PCR is a laboratory technique known as polymerase chain reaction, and is the current FDA-approved test for diagnosing patients with COVID-19.
This is part of the work that CHRISTUS does each day, official said, to keep its facilities safe from the spread of infection.
To keep all who enter hospitals and clinics safe, CHRISTUS added the following precautions:
- Limiting visitors;
- Screening everyone who comes through our doors;
- Isolating COVID-19 patients to one area of the facility;
- Random temperature checks for associates;
- Requiring all associates and visitors to wear masks;
- Using telemedicine to treat active COVID-19 patients, so their caregivers and support staff limit the number of times they enter their rooms.