SALINAS, Calif. (KION) A new rapid test kit for COVID-19 is being used at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. It can give you test results in under 15 minutes. But there is concern about having enough test kits, a concern that is felt at hospitals around the country. For the rapid result tests, like the one employed in the Salinas Valley, the need is particularly acute.
"I know that there is a high demand for the rapid test because it does help us in the healthcare industry make fast decisions on care for patients," says Carla Spencer, the Emergency Services Director at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System.
Health official here know hospitals everywhere are dealing with test availability.
"The pressure points that hospitals are currently under is the fact that we just don't have enough re-agent kits or these instruments and so we go through the county and the state level to get our re-agent kits," says SVMHS Laboratory Service Director Arnulfo Delgado.
Many tests take up to 24 hours and some take even longer. However, although the Abbott ID Now testing machine can produce a result in 15 minutes, the problem is there are a limited number of kits. The kits consist of cartridges that go in the testing machine.
"The Abbot ID Now instrument that we have here for point of care testing which occurs in the laboratory space under a hood is of great benefit to the hospital and our patients," says Delgado.
To not waste COVID-19 kits, doctors tested for influenza in their demonstration. But, the COVID-19 tests allow doctors and nurses to asses at-risk patients faster to determine the care needed.
"We just don't know when we're going to get them and what the availability is and so for right now we have to use them sparingly," says Spencer.
About two to five tests are being processed everyday. About 70 of 96 are still available.
"This technology is wonderful to have because of the rapid testing that it offers the hospital, but again, it does limit us because of the limited number of testing made available to the hospitals at this point," says Delgado.
But patients who will receive the test must be high risk and patients who are being hospitalized already because of symptoms.
"We're doing a combination of some rapid testing and then also a combination of using our Monterey County Health Department lab to do the testing."
CHOMP in Monterey is employing a different rapid test, but that test is also for the most critically ill hospitalized patients.