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LSU SVM's River Road Testing Lab helps doctors get virus test results to patients in record time

1 year 2 months 1 day ago Thursday, April 16 2020 Apr 16, 2020 April 16, 2020 9:54 AM April 16, 2020 in News
Source: The Advocate

BATON ROUGE - Until recently, many Louisiana residents who'd displayed symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 were able to undergo testing, but it would often take a few days for their results to become available.

The Advocate reports that a swiftly yet efficiently implemented lab facility at LSU's School of Veterinary Medicine called River Road Testing Lab was able to cut down on how long patients had to wait before receiving results.

Thanks to the acumen of LSU's Stephania Cormier, a respiratory immunology and toxicology expert and her fellow LSU SVM colleague, Rebecca Christofferson, who is an infectious disease and emerging viruses expert, many Louisiana patients are now able to receive test results in 24 hours.

Before the pandemic, both Cormier and Christofferson had the foresight to plan for how seriously the virus could affect Louisiana.

Later, when LSU Health Sciences professor and Our Lady of the Lake’s medical director of research Dr. Hollis “Bud” O’Neal Jr. was trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of time patients would have to wait for virus testing results, he reached out to the vet school virologists, hoping they might be able to assist in a relatively small way. 

But Cormier and Christofferson, who were ready with a well-thought-out plan, offered even more help than O'Neal expected.

The two explained they had the capability to run PCR-testing for coronavirus in their labs, which is a polymerase chain reaction that detects genetic components of coronavirus. 

After this, they worked with O’Neal and Dr. Beverly Ogden, a pathologist with Pathology Group of Louisiana, as well as other hospital staff to make sure their procedures were within regulated standards. 

“We are home-brewed, happened to be the right people in the right place talking to each other,” Ogden said. “It’s not a production line, it’s a small group of people making it work.”

Home-brewed or not, the lab was up and running in record time.

They began organizing it on a Friday and by the next Thursday, it was running tests for under 100 patients a day. 

“Our goal was never to be a massive testing center,” O’Neal said. “Our goal was to decompress the hospitals in the Baton Rouge area as much as we can, to move patients in and out.”

Now, Our Lady of the Lake, Baton Rouge General, Woman’s Hospital and other area hospitals send samples that need quick results to the LSU lab. 

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