Eglin Air Force Base’s 96th Medical Group can now get the results of COVID-19 tests within about an hour, instead of waiting up to three days for a lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to process them.
The group is using recently acquired test kits in conjunction with a molecular diagnostic analyzer—a system previously used to check for the pathological culprits behind illnesses such as pneumonia—to detect the new coronavirus in patient samples, a base release said.
However, the speedy, in-house capability, which was implemented on April 10, is currently reserved for “area Defense Department beneficiaries” who are being admitted to the base’s hospital, the release explained.
“It is essential to identify admitted patients who are COVID-19 positive to determine patient care, as well as to control the transmission of the virus within the medical treatment facility,’’ Lt. Col. Jennifer Shirley, the laboratory and pathology flight commander, said in the release. “This protects other patients and our health care workers.”
Samples from other symptomatic patients are still being shipped to Ohio for processing, the release noted.
As of May 11, the 96th Medical Group’s lab had tested approximately two percent of U.S. troops, relatives, and military retirees who live in the Eglin area, the release said.