With a delay in COVID-19 testing causing results around the state to take as long as 12-15 days, Middle Park Health invested in laboratory equipment to process tests quicker and more efficiently.
On Thursday, Middle Park Health’s board approved a $56,000 purchase of a test processing machine and $4,000 for COVID-19 test reagents.
“In regards to testing and where we head in the future, one of the things we’ve looked at is how can we do that testing here because the testing was backlogged then it got a little better then backlogged again,” explained Middle Park Health CEO Jason Cleckler.
The hospital hopes to have the equipment installed this week, which would allow them to begin processing around 15 tests per day. The machine holds three tests at a time, with the processing lasting about an hour and a half.
“We could maintain a good turnaround time for our community,” said Van Nguyen, Middle Park Health Laboratory Director.
Nguyen estimated the test would cost patients $157, depending on insurance.
Since COVID-19 reagents are in high demand, Nguyen said the hospital would need to buy a minimum of 1,500 tests to secure the reagents. So far, Grand County has conducted over 1,100 tests since March and a doctor at the meeting noted that the school districts want to test staff before classes restart.
Other potential interest could come from the ski resorts and large employers in the county looking to maintain safe working environments.
If the hospital processes 1,500 COVID-19 tests, Nguyen estimated the return on investment at around $700,000.
The machine can also process other tests, including influenza and gastrointestinal panels.
It’s also possible the hospital will be able to submit the cost of the equipment for reimbursement from the county’s COVID-19 funds or receive a grant.