Nacogdoches hospital using improved technology to detect respiratory viruses

Nacogdoches hospital using improved technology to detect respiratory viruses
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 3:22 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2021 at 10:12 PM CST

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Technology is advancing along with the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital is utilizing an improved comprehensive testing method.

Certified medical laboratory technician Kevin Wooley works in the hospital’s chilly lab, but warm feelings surface when he knows the technology helps others.

“I worked Saturday night and the little baby, 4-month old-had rhinovirus. And that’s one of the things it picks up,” recalled Wooley.

He is referring to DNA tracking polymerase chain reaction technology, or PCR testing.

“They’ve had PCR testing for years. But when COVID came out, it really brought it to the forefront,” said the technician who has worked in Dallas/Ft.Worth hospitals. The improvements are influencing hospitals and labs outside of big cities to acquire the latest in testing equipment.

Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital’s BioFire model detects 21 viruses and bacteria, including COVID-19 and its variants, influenza strains, RSV, and pneumonia, all from one comprehensive test.

“So rather than test 20 different tests, the BioFire allows us to do one and done because it covers all of those,” explained Hart Hintze, Memorial’s Chief Operating and Nursing Officer.

“It takes us 45 minutes on that machine,” pointed out Wooley.

Rapid antigen screening you can do at home is faster, but not as reliable as genetic testing.

“You might have one or two viruses that it will be able to pick up so it’s very, very accurate,” said Hintze.

Quick and accurate results lead to faster treatment.

“Which shortens your length of stay and you get better faster,” said Hintze.

And it provides peace of mind for a lab technician eager to protect the community while helping a child, parents and physicians.

Since COVID-19, PCR testing is conducted at most hospitals, but equipment varies. Some hospitals utilize outside labs. The method costs ten times more than the antibody tests. It is covered by insurance companies and requires a doctor’s order.

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