Franciscan University Loans COVID-19 Testing Unit to Trinity Health System Laboratory
April 20, 2020
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Joseph Pathakamuri, Himanshu Doshi, Daniel Kuebler
Dr. Joseph Pathakamuri, Professor of Biology, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Dr. Himanshu Doshi, MD, Medical Director, Trinity Health System; Dr. Daniel Kuebler, Dean of Natural and Applied Sciences, Franciscan University of Steubenville

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—Thanks to a partnership between Franciscan University of Steubenville and Trinity Health System, people living in the greater Steubenville area can now be tested quickly, and locally, for the COVID-19 virus.

Franciscan University’s Biology Department provided Trinity’s laboratory with a real-time PCR machine that was not being used by the University’s Biology Department since all on-campus classes shifted to online in March.

The device enables Trinity to conduct tests at their in-house laboratory on their Steubenville West campus and get results within four-to-five hours, instead of waiting two-to-seven days for results from a regional lab, depending on the volume of testing.

“If results are positive, the patient can be isolated right away. If, say, a healthcare worker tests negative, that person can immediately go back to work,” said Dr. Daniel Kuebler, dean of Franciscan’s School of Natural and Applied Science.

Kuebler trained Trinity’s lab technicians on the sophisticated piece of equipment, which uses fluorescence to detect coronavirus taken from a swab test. Franciscan biology professor, Dr. Joseph Pathakamuri, initiated the collaboration following a suggestion by Dr. Mark Kissinger, Jefferson County health director. Pathakamuri also helped Trinity procure the reagents from medical suppliers that will enable Trinity to initially conduct up to 800 tests.

Himanshu Doshi, MD, chairman and medical director of the Trinity Health System laboratory, said, “Widespread availability of diagnostic testing is critical in helping identify and control the emergence of this rapidly spreading illness.” He called Franciscan’s donation “Invaluable. . . . These two local institutions came together for the benefit of the community.”

Validation studies have been completed, and on Monday, April 20, Trinity’s lab began performing the molecular RT-PCR tests for detection of the COVID-19 virus on patients that meet the criteria established by the Ohio Department of Health.

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