By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Instead of waiting days for COVID-19 test results, how about waiting mere minutes?
AcuteKids Pediatric Urgent Care in Webster now offers rapid testing for COVID-19 for adults and children.
The Cepheid GeneXpert Xpress offers four-in-one results for COVID-19, influenza A and B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Patients can receive a call at home in as little as 35 minutes after they were tested.
Founder Chrysa Charno calls the rapid testing a game-changer. “Instead of waiting days to get results, and causing people to miss work and school, we can shut down the vectors for the virus right away.”
Otherwise, those who have COVID-19 can unwittingly spread the disease before patients have received their diagnosis. By confirming a positive diagnosis sooner, they can take the additional precautions needed to stop the virus’ spread and so those whom they exposed can quarantine themselves.
“Our primary service is for children,” Charno said. “We opened the testing to adults because there’s such a need in our community.”
The state mandates that children with a headache, upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, nasal congestion and other symptoms must stay at home until they have a negative COVID-19 test. Many companies have adopted similar standards. While policies like these curtail the spread, they also keep healthy people out of work and school needlessly for days.
Rapid PCR Testing can mean zero to one missed day. The test fulfills school requirements for returning to class.
“It’s really impressive technology,” Charno said. “The company that offers it, Cepheid, is a well-known company that offers multiple platforms for molecular testing of a variety of pathogens. It’s the same testing they would do in a hospital and it’s the most accurate way to look for certain pathogens. Everyone keeps asking the accuracy of the test. It is the same platform the hospitals have. It’s now available to specialized office labs. It’s not that easy to obtain, which is why everyone doesn’t have it. You have to be a CLIA certified lab to have this technology.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments “include federal standards applicable to all U.S. facilities or sites that test human specimens for health assessment or to diagnose, prevent, or treat disease.”
Charno said that PCR tests detects particles of the viral DNA, an FDA-approved method of testing approved in October. Its ability to detect COVID-19, RSV and two strains of flu is also novel.
“In the past we had to do three different swabs,” Charno said.
Obviously, most people prefer just one, especially parents of small children who will not sit quietly for the swabs.
Charno said that AcuteKids tests about 80 to 100 people daily. Part of the reason that the facility cannot test more people is that supplies, such as the cartridge required for each test, are extremely limited.
“A lot of people don’t understand that we get 50 to 100 cartridges in a shipment and they’re gone in a day,” Charno said.
Charno said that AcuteKids offers online registration, walk-in visits (call from the car before entering) and contactless registration prior to or at the beginning of the visit.
Photo: Chrysa Charnoa, a physician’s assistant who founded AcuteKids Pediatric Urgent Care in Webster, which offers rapid COVID-19 testing.“Instead of waiting days to get results, and causing people to miss work and school, we can shut down the vectors for the virus right away,” she says of the test she offers.