Yale New Haven Health surpasses one million COVID tests

Friday, April 23, 2021

New Haven, CT (April 23, 2021) – Yale New Haven Health (YNHHS) reached a significant milestone, having conducted one million COVID-19 tests across the health system. Over 95% of these tests were both collected by YNHHS personnel and tested by YNHHS laboratories, making YNHHS unique in CT for offering complete COVID-19 testing services at this scale. The milestone mark was set on April 21, 2021.

In early 2020, when COVID hit the United States, testing capability was extremely limited; samples had to be sent out for testing, resulting in long waits. The Clinical Virology Laboratory was the first non-reference laboratory to receive FDA Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 test. It was then offered to Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH) patients and rapidly expanded to cover all YNHHS hospitals. 

“For several weeks early in the pandemic, there were no commercial tests available, so having our own laboratory-developed test, based on the CDC assay, made a huge difference for admitted patients and for the staff caring for them,” said Marie-Louise Landry, MD, director, Clinical Virology Laboratory, Yale New Haven Hospital. “One of the virology lab technologists volunteered to work third shift so we could provide 24/7 COVID testing. We were the only hospital in Connecticut with on-site testing.”

Subsequently, commercial tests became available, allowing testing to be performed across all YNHHS laboratories. Seven different testing methods have been used, and more are being added to better meet patient care needs. Despite very limited testing supplies, YNHHS laboratories were consistently performing over 2,000 tests a day by June 2020, but testing needs were still not being met. Therefore, tremendous effort was devoted to implement a highly complex test platform in a dedicated COVID Testing Laboratory at YNHH As a result, by November 2020, YNHHS was testing nearly 5,000 specimens a day.

“Testing performed at each delivery network has been essential to meet our patient testing needs, and collaboration among YNHHS laboratories and the YNHHS testing enterprise has made this accomplishment possible,” said David R. Peaper MD, PhD, director, COVID Testing Laboratory, YNHH. “The staff at the COVID Testing Laboratory at YNHH have done a tremendous job managing a complex test at a scale that was previously unimaginable to meet the patient testing needs throughout the state.”

Yale New Haven Health also created a robust state-wide network of high-quality, COVID-19 public mass testing/specimen collection sites throughout Connecticut, 13 total throughout 4 counties, plus a mobile RV targeted to ensure access to underserved communities, to accommodate adults and children who may have symptoms (symptomatic), those without symptoms (asymptomatic), and also those scheduled for procedures at our locations. In addition to Connecticut, the drive-through, walk-up and mobile testing centers are located with an additional site in Westerly, Rhode Island.

“A vital component to combatting COVID-19 was the creation of convenient, fast, safe and reliable testing,” said Montana Passero, Interim Executive Director Lab/COVID Testing, Yale New Haven Heath. “Our labs did a phenomenal job creating the tests and providing timely results. I am extremely proud, however, that we created these testing centers in record time, developed safety protocols for our patients and staff that allowed so many to get tested so quickly. This only occurs with a skilled and dedicated staff that worked tirelessly to reassure the communities we serve we are here for them.”

All COVID-19 tests at Yale New Haven Health are highly sensitive tests, such as PCR, which detect genetic material in the virus. These tests are considered to be the highest quality tests because of their superior accuracy in detecting COVID-19, even in people who are asymptomatic.

By developing its own test, so early in the pandemic, YNHHS was able to test more patients quickly to allow for more rapid assessment and treatment, 97% of patients received test results within two days.

Yale New Haven Health (YNHHS), the largest and most comprehensive healthcare system in Connecticut, is recognized for advanced clinical care, quality, service, cost effectiveness and commitment to improving the health status of the communities it serves. YNHHS includes five hospitals – Bridgeport, Greenwich, Lawrence + Memorial, Westerly and Yale New Haven hospitals, several specialty networks and Northeast Medical Group, a non-profit medical foundation with several hundred community-based and hospital-employed physicians. YNHHS is affiliated with Yale University and Yale Medicine, the clinical practice of the Yale School of Medicine and the largest academic multi-specialty practice in New England. Yale New Haven Hospital is the primary teaching hospital of Yale School of Medicine. www.ynhhs.org

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