April 06, 2020
Tulane Health System recently obtained new technology that allows its hospitals to test for COVID-19 in-house and receive results in as little as five minutes. The health system is now testing all inpatient admissions for COVID-19 – even those who have no symptoms – providing a new, additional layer of protection for its staff and patients.
“The speed of this new testing capability – which was granted emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last week – also lets us quickly know which patients are and are not COVID-positive,” said Dr. Brandon Mauldin, Tulane Health System’s chief medical officer. “Out of necessity, we’ve treated pending patients as COVID-positive and followed those protocols to keep everyone safe. This will significantly reduce the number of patients whose results are pending, which in turn, helps us conserve personal protective equipment and other resources.”
The technology has been deployed at Tulane Medical Center, Tulane Lakeside Hospital and the Tulane Cancer Center.
The new Abbott Laboratory tests, combined with previous enhanced testing capabilities developed last week, are enabling Tulane Health System to provide rapid testing to first responders such as EMS and police staff. Hospital leaders are also discussing how Tulane can work with other hospitals – both locally and in other regions – to assist them with rapid testing, as well.
“This continues to be a community-wide health crisis, and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to extend this assistance to others, especially our first responders,” Dr. Mauldin said. “Now more than ever, we need to work together as a community – and that includes everyone continuing to practice social distancing and proper handwashing.”
Even with these testing capabilities, emergency rooms should remain reserved for patients whose symptoms are significant and may require hospitalization, Dr. Mauldin added. Established patients of Tulane Health System clinics and physicians may have the option to conduct a telehealth visit with their provider and are asked to call their doctor for more information. And Tulane Care Navigator offers a free, online COVID-19 screening and a virtual visit option with a healthcare provider, if appropriate.