Rapid Testing In Montezuma County Gets A Boost With Higher Capacity Equipment

May 21, 2020

In this week’s coronavirus update with Southwest Health System staff, KSJD speaks with Alan Laird, director of laboratory services, about the BD Max analyzer that’s now in use for local rapid testing. 

The equipment arrived at the lab last week and started running COVID-19 test kits Wednesday, after seven days of using sample tests to verify accuracy.

Note: Southwest Health System is an underwriter of KSJD.

Up to 24 patients can be tested at one time, with results coming in two to three hours. That’s a much quicker turnaround, Laird said, when compared to kits that had to be mailed out for testing and waiting two to five days for results. The lab’s Abbott device can provide results within an hour but can only run one test at a time.

The capacity of the BD Max analyzer would be important for quickly identifying positive cases and expediting the start of contact tracing in the event of an outbreak in the area. As Laird detailed in his previous conversation with KSJD, the benefits of rapid testing are most effective with an ample supply of test kits. So far, he said, BD has been providing weekly kits for the analyzer.

For now, SHS will continue to follow its same criteria for testing symptomatic patients until it can be sure to depend on regular deliveries of the kits from BD.

The analyzer will also be used for a range of other infections and organisms, like STDs and E. coli.

“It’ll open up a whole range of things that used to take anywhere from days or a week,” Laird said.

Hear Laird’s full interview with KSJD below.