PVHC’s coronavirus tests less intrusive, but just as accurate

Posted 6/30/20

Earlier this month, Powell Valley Healthcare began providing drive-thru COVID-19 testing, using its Cepheid GeneXpert machine. The hospital is allotted 500 tests per week from the federal government, …

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PVHC’s coronavirus tests less intrusive, but just as accurate

Posted

Earlier this month, Powell Valley Healthcare began providing drive-thru COVID-19 testing, using its Cepheid GeneXpert machine. The hospital is allotted 500 tests per week from the federal government, and  PVHC Laboratory Director Alysia Kampbell said the provider has done nearly 1,000 tests so far.

“We are pushing our limits,” Kampbell said.

Cody Regional Health is also offering COVID-19 testing, but using a different method. For the nasopharyngeal test, the swab must be taken from deeper inside the nasal cavity, and the sample is sent off for analysis at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory. It can take up to two or three days for results, whereas PVHC provides results in about 36 hours, with a test that involves a swab just inside the nasal opening. Both tests have similar accuracy rates.

Kampbell said PVHC has the capacity to do four samples per hour, but with such high demand, they have been going a bit longer on the results in some cases.

“We’re pretty much running 24/7 over here,” she said.

The Cepheid was one of the first platforms available for COVID-19 and has proven itself to be one of the most desired tests available because of its ability to detect actual viral RNA at very low concentrations. This means that the virus is detected earlier in the infection. Still, it takes 72 hours from the time a person is exposed to COVID-19 before the virus replicates enough to start shedding in the nasal passages. So, it’s possible to be infected prior to that point and have the test not detect it.

Prior to offering curbside testing, PVHC was required to verify the performance of the test. They collected two swabs from every patient: A simple nasal swab (for testing on the Cepheid at PVHC) and a nasopharyngeal for testing at the state lab. All test results matched 100%, verifying that the nasal swab result was just as reliable and accurate as the nasopharyngeal swab that is analyzed at the state laboratory, PVHC officials said in a news release.

Since the verification process, PVHC is only collecting the simple nasal swab for the testing it does at its own facility.

PVHC will continue providing testing through the summer for residents of the Big Horn Basin and anyone traveling into or through the area. Curbside testing is located in front of Powell Valley Clinic at 777 Ave. H, and the tests are $20.

Due to the high demand and a limited number of tests, the hospital is conducting no more than 50 tests per day. If you have any questions or concerns about the nasal swab testing or COVID-19, call the hospital’s hotline at 754-1242 to speak to a clinical staff member.

(Tribune News Editor Kevin Killough contributed reporting.)

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