Now that the pilot project using Abbott ID Now machines to provide point-of-care testing at hospitals in Regina and Saskatoon is complete, this testing platform is being deployed to acute care locations across the province.
As of January 27, SHA Laboratory Medicine had deployed 47 instruments to these hospitals, and have completed 2,250 tests since December 4.
“The deployment of POCT is a full SHA effort across many teams,” said Lenore Howey, Executive Director of Laboratory Medicine. “It has not been easy, as pressures are high on all staff within the health system. But with patient care as our main focus, our teams are working hard to meet our goals on this project.”
Laboratory Medicine is also working with Continuing Care to deploy a second POCT platform, Abbott Panbio (antigen test), following the completion of a pilot project. This pilot included testing of asymptomatic residents and staff in long-term care (LTC) homes for assurance purposes, with the ability to identify early detection of the virus in asymptomatic residents and staff. As of January 27, this testing was taking place in 50 LTC homes with more than 6,000 tests completed, and training is currently underway with an additional 25 locations.
“Point-of-care testing gives us more opportunities to identify cases earlier and quickly, which gives health care members the opportunity to adjust care plans and precautions accordingly to limit the impact and spread,” said Howey. “It is another tool we can use to limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the best quality care for our patients and residents in our facilities.”
Antigen tests, like the Abbott Panbio, and PCR tests, like the Abbott ID Now, differ in that antigen tests detect the viral protein, and PCR tests detect the viral RNA. A third POCT platform, the BD Veritor Plus (another antigen test), is also being acquired, and Laboratory Medicine is working on training documentation which will lead to the next pilot project.
Health Canada has now approved a variety of POCT platforms, and the federal government has a procurement agreement for these three platforms. Distribution is based on population base across Canada, and Saskatchewan is projected to acquire three per cent of the procurement allocations.
Members of the Point-of-Care testing team await analysis of a swab during the Abbott ID NOW pilot project. From left: LPNs Jane Mallett and Suma James.