BRYAN, TX, May 5, 2020 – St. Joseph Health and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) have partnered to offer increased accessibility to SARS CoV2 (COVID-19) testing for the community through the TVMDL lab at the Texas A&M University campus. Tests conducted at TVMDL will require physician order. This is not a testing site open to the public. This collaboration does however permit the lab to conduct tests in a timelier manner, allowing for patient results delivered in faster.
TVMDL, a component of Texas A&M AgriLife, one of the highest quality and largest volume veterinary laboratories in the United States, recently received CLIA authorization to allow a human healthcare provider to perform COVID-19 testing using their equipment and lab space. CLIA or Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, is CMS’s regulatory authority on human medicine testing.
"I am extremely proud of the work our St. Joseph Health laboratory staff has done along with TVMDL to get this sophisticated molecular testing started,” said Michael Cohen, M.D. Medical Director of Laboratories and Chair of Pathology Department for St. Joseph Health and Managing Director of Brazos Valley Pathology. “This will allow us to provide timely, high volume diagnostic testing locally to care for our patients and support our community.”
Dr. Marcela Jimenez of Brazos Valley Pathology will serve as TVMDL’s medical director overseeing testing efforts.
Laboratory staff from St. Joseph Health will utilize the equipment at TVMDL to run the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, one of the two tests that are currently used to test for COVID-19. PCR swabs are currently collected at all St. Joseph Health Emergency Centers as well as the South College Station Respiratory Clinic.
Through this partnership, St. Joseph Health staff can test up to 500 COVID-19 samples each day, allowing St. Joseph to greatly increase the number of tests performed daily in the community.
“TVMDL is dedicated to protecting both animal and human health,” TVMDL Director Dr. Bruce Akey said. “Typically, we embody that mission through veterinary testing. We now have the opportunity to truly help our human health counterparts and make a lasting impact in the Brazos Valley.”
PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies. By detecting viral RNA, which will be present in the body before antibodies form or symptoms of the disease may be present, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early on.
The test uses a simple nasopharyngeal swab and test results should be expected back within 24-48 hours. Patients should expect to be notified of their results by their provider within St. Joseph Health.
St. Joseph Health currently offers testing for COVID-19 at all five Emergency Centers across the Brazos Valley, as well as the Respiratory Clinic located in South College Station. For more information about symptoms of COVID-19 or how to access care, visit CHIStJoseph.org. For employers who are interested in testing for staff, please visit CHIStJoseph.org/covid-19.
About St. Joseph Health
St. Joseph Health is comprised of five hospitals across the Brazos Valley, including Regional Hospital in Bryan-College Station and St. Joseph Health College Station Hospital (formerly College Station Medical Center). St. Joseph Health is home to a Level II Major Trauma Center, the highest in the region. St. Joseph Health is an academic and clinical partner of Texas A&M Health Science Center. Together, the St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network includes over 100 employed primary care physicians, specialists and advanced practice clinicians. As an active member of the Brazos Valley, St. Joseph Health is a leader in providing compassionate care as well as addressing the overall health of the community. It is part of CommonSpirit Health, the largest Catholic healthcare system in the United States, and is committed to advancing the health of all people and dedicated to serving the common good. Learn more about St. Joseph Health at CHIStJoseph.org.
As one of the busiest veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the nation, TVMDL performs over 900,000 tests each year from almost every animal species. TVMDL is comprised of laboratories in College Station, Amarillo, Center, and Gonzales. As a member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), TVMDL is part of a group of state and regional veterinary laboratories dedicated to performing surveillance testing for high-consequence animal disease outbreaks. The agency also performs routine diagnostic testing for veterinarians, livestock producers and state agriculture and wildlife agencies. Over 165 TVMDL employees work in the fields of science, technology, animal agriculture, and veterinary medicine. Learn more about TVMDL by visiting tvmdl.tamu.edu.
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