Since the country entered level 4 lockdown our laboratory teams have scaled up their COVID-19 testing capacity, big time. Daily COVID-19 testing through our laboratory has increased from 500 to 5500 tests per day.
The CM Health medical laboratory workforce consists of scientists, technicians, and clinicians. This team of 250 professionals are a critical part of keeping us safe and helping control the spread of COVID in our community. The latest lockdown and community cases of COVID-19 has thousands of kiwis doing exactly what they should be doing - getting tested if they have cold like symptoms or have been at a location of interest at the times published by the Ministry of Health.
“Our laboratory has 250 people all contributing to meet the extraordinary demand on our system” says Don Mikkelsen, Service Manager for Manukau Health Laboratory.
“We were doing around 500 COVID-19 tests per day prior to this lockdown. That number has increased to 5500 per day since this outbreak began. It’s an extraordinary achievement by our laboratory professionals."
The team have been preparing to scale up, and it’s thanks to the willingness of laboratory staff redeployed to assist with COVID-19 testing, and working lots of overtime, that our community test results are being processed and communicated back to our medical teams.
“We’re getting results back to people who have tested positive, and need to take steps to protect themselves and their whaanau, in the shortest possible time. It’s a shame when the public only hear about the exceptions where a result has taken longer. That does happen and we are always looking to improve, but in context our testing volume has increased by 1000% pretty much overnight. We know most Aucklanders value the work we do”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year improvements in laboratory testing logistics, and workflow, have helped increase our laboratory’s capacity.
“There have been some great advances in our workflow logistics that has improved the speed at which we can begin our processing when a sample arrives at the laboratory. The advancement in our IT platforms has helped us to scale up our testing capacity and speed.
“We’re operating in a fast paced and challenging environment. Our people get great satisfaction in knowing the contribution they are making to our community, and that what we do does make a difference. Applying science to keep people safe is what we do best” he says.
You can watch this video to find out more about what happens to your COVID-19 test sample.