UPHS in-house COVID-19 testing means better patient care

 Courtesy: UPHS-Marquette
Courtesy: UPHS-Marquette (WLUC)
Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT
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Upper Peninsula Health System-Marquette announced an


Polly Hockberger, Director of Laboratory Services at UPHS says this in-house coronavirus testing is a huge benefit to the people of the Upper Peninsula.

"It's really a benefit to the entire U.P. that we're able to do this, especially because we are so remote from other reference labs and the state lab. There would be long delays just because of our location and transportation of the samples," Hockberger announced.

The in-house test, which takes about 24 hours to get results, cuts days and weeks off the wait time according to Hockberger.

"When we first came into this pandemic, we were experiencing about a 14 day lag time in getting results from national reference labs," Hockberger exclaimed.

That faster turnaround time not only makes helps the hospital run more efficiently by conserving PPE, but it also helps to reduce stress on patients and their families. The test could also help save lives by helping to diagnose and treat each patient faster.

"We do submit our results to the health department on a daily basis. They’re included in the aggregate data," Hockberger asserted.

So from a public health and contact tracing aspect, these more timely results are also crucial.

Patients could expect some brief discomfort or pain as you provide your sample for the doctors.

"It's a nasal pharyngeal swab. So not just a nasal swab but it goes far back into your nasal pharyngeal cavity to obtain that sample,” Hockberger warned.

Hockberger says any discomfort you experience while providing your sample is worth it.

"We have validated our test so that it performs to the level of the CDC assay that's available. Our limits of detection, our sensitivity and specificity were at least as good as those that were available from public health laboratories or other commercial labs," Hockberger boasted.

Not just anyone is eligible to take this coronavirus test. Hockberger says you may need an order from your healthcare provider to receive a test. Other criteria for testing is set by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"They have recently expanded their criteria to include other critical healthcare workers on top of the inpatient healthcare workers, critical infrastructure workers and people in the community who are symptomatic with known exposure,” Hockberger stated.

For more information, visit the

or call 906-449-3000.

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