UPMC increases testing for staff, patients seeking essential care


ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — UPMC officials said they’re ramping up their testing capacities, trying to get a better understanding of asymptomatic patients.

Now, if someone is going in for a procedure, surgery, or any other essential care, they will be tested for COVID-19.

UPMC can test 600 patients for the Coronavirus in one day, and those results can sometimes return in six hours or less.

“We know from research that many people can have the disease and have absolutely no symptoms. Here is where testing becomes essential,” UPMC’s Chief Quality Officer Tami Minnier said.

Their focus now is to figure out who may have it and not be aware of it, as well as how they may be able to help future patients beat the virus through an antibodies test.

“A few weeks after you’ve had COVID-19, whether you were sick or no, your body produces enduring antibodies against it. We need individuals who are willing to donate blood for those who are struggling with the disease,” Minnier said.

UPMC hopes the increase in testing will reverse the disruption in care at their facilities due to patients’ fear of the Coronavirus.

“The most frequent contact I get as a healthcare provider is patients wanting needed care and wanting to schedule it, but being unable to have that occur. We want to serve any patient who needs essential care,” Dr. Don Yealy, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UPMC, said.

UPMC did have a shortage of swabs used to test for COVID-19. Now, they have started 3D-printing those swabs to make sure kits available for everyone that needs it.

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