Denver-based National Jewish Health doing its own COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus
Data pix.

DENVER (KDVR) -- National Jewish Health now has the capability to do its own testing for COVID-19 patients at its main campus in Denver.

 The nationally renowned respiratory hospital completed its first batch of tests Sunday, which revealed seven positive results out of the first 20 people it tested.

"This has been an all-hands-on-deck, around-the-clock enterprise to get this up and running,” said Dr. Stephen Frankel, a pulmonologist with National Jewish Health.

Until now, the hospital has been relying on out-of-state labs that have been taking five to six days to produce test results because of a huge backlog.

Now, National Jewish Health has robotic equipment that can process results in six to 24 hours, which Frankel says will allow staff to “Focus on the high-risk population and the sickest, most affected individuals. That allows you to save your personal protective equipment for those patients who need it and make that supply last longer.”

By doing its own testing, National Jewish Health can quickly determine which patients need a bed and which ones can go home.

Frankel says that's critical because the hospital is still treating patients with serious asthma and pulmonary diseases.

“All the other diseases don't take a holiday and don't go away. They just compound the problem," he said.

National Jewish Health also opened an acute respiratory clinic to separate and evaluate patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Of the first seven patients who were tested onsite Sunday, all seven have required hospitalization.

As of Monday, the hospital can process 100 tests daily but hopes to double or triple capacity by the end of the week.

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