N.J. healthcare network begins new rapid response test for the coronavirus

Posted Mar 12, 2020

A team of New Jersey researchers have unveiled a new tool that could significantly increase the state’s ability to test possible cases of the coronavirus.

Hackensack Meridian Health announced on Thursday that researchers at its Center for Discovery and Innovation in Nutley have gotten final approval to begin using a newly developed rapid response test for the coronavirus, officially called COVID-19.

The new tests will return results within hours, according to the health network. The coronavirus tests currently used New Jersey’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratories and private companies like LabCorp take between one and two days to determine results.

“Our mission at Hackensack Meridian Health is to transform health care and this new rapid test does precisely that,” said Robert Garrett, the chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are all proud to provide this game-changing diagnostic tool which will ultimately benefit communities far beyond New Jersey. I applaud the efforts of the CDI in achieving this breakthrough."

The final approval came from the Food and Drug Administration, which granted an emergency use authorization for the new tests. The New Jersey Department of Health has also approved the tests.

Initially, Hackensack Meridian Health’s network — which includes 17 hospitals in New Jersey — will be able to test 24 patients every eight hours. Patients at those hospitals that are showing severe symptoms will be prioritized for the new tests, according to the health network.

Officials for the health network stressed that strict protocols will be followed in determining which patients are eligible to be tested for the coronavirus. Patients should first consult with their primary care physician to determine if they are a candidate for testing.

Still, the new tests help lift the burden on the state’s lab, which has handled the majority of COVID-19 testing in the Garden State so far. The DOH currently has the resources to test 400 people total, state officials said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“The DOH commends Hackensack Meridian Health’s effort in bringing online their laboratory to test for SARS-COV-2 and adding more testing capacity in New Jersey," said DOH assistant commissioner Chris Neuwirth, referring to the virus that causes COVID-19. “As more hospital and commercial laboratories begin testing, New Jersey residents will have greater access to SARS-COV-2 diagnostic testing and public health officials will have a greater ability to monitor, track, and respond to new cases.”

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment