COVID-19 Q&A: Inside the test lab with Rochelle Odenbrett

Sanford Laboratories now process coronavirus tests around the clock

The Sanford Health News team prepares to film an interview about COVID19 testing at Sanford Laboratories in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

One week in, COVID-19 testing at Sanford Health is going “very smoothly,” according to Sanford Laboratories Senior Executive Director Rochelle Odenbrett.

“We’re excited to be able to do that for our patients at Sanford,” Odenbrett told Sanford Health News in a Facebook Live Q&A on Sunday afternoon. Odenbrett oversees daily operations inside the COVID-19 testing lab.

Watch video: Facebook Live Q&A about COVID-19 testing at Sanford Health

The lab officially began testing on March 22. Since then, the team of five technicians, who are qualified in this type of infectious disease testing, have processed nearly 400 tests per day — and say they’ll be ready for an increase, if needed.

Previously, COVID-19 tests from Sanford patients were sent to the state Department of Health or commercial laboratories. Sanford will continue to use these external labs as needed for any overflow testing.

“One of the things we’re working on diligently is trying to get more equipment up and going,” Odenbrett said. “We have technicians back up there now trying to get more equipment so we can add capacity in the weeks to come.”

Part of solving COVID-19

To be tested, patients must meet high-risk criteria and have a physician order.

The new Sanford testing capability will enable far more patients to be tested with faster turnaround time. The expanded testing will also provide public health officials more data about the spread of COVID-19 in the communities Sanford serves.

As of March 29, the World Health Organization reports more than 100,000 people in the U.S. have confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, and more than 1,600 have died. Worldwide, more than 600,000 people have confirmed cases, and more than 30,000 have died.

Odenbrett says her team is proud of the fact that they can contribute and be a part of the solution.

“Laboratorians aren’t always in the spotlight,” Odenbrett said. “So it’s fun for my team to play a part and know the work they’re doing. They’re proud to come in and do this work on a daily basis. Everyone is giving up and contributing to what we need to keep each other safe. There’s a lot of pride among the team right now.”

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Posted In Coronavirus, Expert Q&A, Faces of Sanford Health, Health Care Heroes, News

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