Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s (DHMC) laboratory is testing for Novel Coronavirus, n2019-CoV, the virus which causes the COVID-19 respiratory illness.
Using the DHMC laboratory for Clinical Genomics and Advanced Technology and the microbiology lab, testing became available on March 18. Implementing this testing required complex evaluations and validations of new testing protocols as set forth by the FDA and Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The number of tests that can be performed daily could be up to 1,000, but because of ongoing shortages of test collection supplies and personal protective equipment, the hospital is limited to testing only hospitalized patients within the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system and health care workers, including first responders, who have direct contact with patients. Once fully operational over the next week to 10 days, the turnaround time from test to results should provide results to patients within 24 hours or less.
“Our testing capability continues to grow and evolve, and being able to test here at DHMC allows us to more rapidly screen patients and make the best use of our resources,” said Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Chief Clinical Officer Edward J. Merrens, MD. “We also believe the ability to test here will help relieve pressure on the New Hampshire state laboratory, enabling the state to assist other hospitals. Our priority remains to care for our sickest patients and support those who care for them.”