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NGHS, Longstreet face shortages for COVID testing kits
05162020 TESTING 4.jpg
People are tested for the COVID-19 virus Friday, May 15, 2020, in the parking lot of the Flor de Jalisco supermarket. State leaders spent time at the site in Gainesville’s largely Latino business district on Atlanta Highway as they sought to learn more about the area’s unique issues with and reaction to COVID-19. - photo by Scott Rogers

On a typical day, Longstreet Clinic runs upward of 100 PCR COVID-19 tests per day.

But for the last several days, the supply for tests has been in the low double digits.

Longstreet Clinic Chief Operating Officer Loren Funk said Friday the clinic had 10 test kits, which have the reagents and chemicals needed to run a test sample.

Funk said the shortage has led to some prioritizing in terms of which tests are run in-house — usually leading to a same-day turnaround — and which others are being sent to a reference lab.

He said they are prioritizing small children, patients who are candidates for monoclonal antibody therapy or having surgery in the immediate future, employees and providers.

Those outside of this priority will have their test samples sent to a reference lab which can take 48 to 72 hours to get a result back.

“We would rather be in the position of being able to run all the tests on our own equipment so we can give the quick results, but that’s what we’re up against right now,” Funk said. “It’s pretty much going day by day as to knowing what the availability is on the PCR tests.”

Northeast Georgia Health System officials said they, too, have not been immune from this recent shortage. Funk attributed the shortage to the recent increase in volume of tests being performed and possible effects from Hurricane Ida.

As of Friday NGHS was caring for 317 patients who were confirmed positive for COVID, nearing the peak seen last January, which was 355.


“As with many facilities, Northeast Georgia Medical Center has seen intermittent issues with procuring adequate numbers of testing supplies,” said Dr. Joseph Conway, Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s medical director for laboratory services, in a statement. “At this time, the situation has stabilized for hospital testing. However, we have no excess inventory if future allocations or shipping delays occur.  All NGHS facilities use nuclei acid amplification tests (PCR and TMA) that are less likely than antigen based tests to give false positive results.”

Compared to their normal weekly testing supply orders, Bobby Norris, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Vice President of Operations, said the physicians group has been receiving less than half of what has been ordered.

While trying to provide the rapid test for as many people as possible, Norris said they have prioritized symptomatic patients “particularly if they qualify for monoclonal antibody treatment.” 

“The results for rapid tests are typically available the same day,” Norris said. “For patients who are asymptomatic, perhaps with a sick family member or in need of a test for travel, we have to send their tests out for processing, and those results are typically returned within one to three days.”

Funk said Longstreet Clinic would like to get back to having at least two to three days of supplies, but they have been running short and getting orders as little as 20 test kits in a day.

Typically, the clinic would receive a large shipment that would tide them over.

“The way that the supply chain has been running, we’re just taking whatever we can get every day,” Funk said.


“As with many facilities, Northeast Georgia Medical Center has seen intermittent issues with procuring adequate numbers of testing supplies,” said Dr. Joseph Conway, Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s medical director for laboratory services, in a statement. “At this time, the situation has stabilized for hospital testing. However, we have no excess inventory if future allocations or shipping delays occur.  All NGHS facilities use nuclei acid amplification tests (PCR and TMA) that are less likely than antigen based tests to give false positive results.”

Compared to their normal weekly testing supply orders, Bobby Norris, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Vice President of Operations, said the physicians group has been receiving less than half of what has been ordered.

While trying to provide the rapid test for as many people as possible, Norris said they have prioritized symptomatic patients “particularly if they qualify for monoclonal antibody treatment.” 

“The results for rapid tests are typically available the same day,” Norris said. “For patients who are asymptomatic, perhaps with a sick family member or in need of a test for travel, we have to send their tests out for processing, and those results are typically returned within one to three days.”

Funk said Longstreet Clinic would like to get back to having at least two to three days of supplies, but they have been running short and getting orders as little as 20 test kits in a day.

Typically, the clinic would receive a large shipment that would tide them over.

“The way that the supply chain has been running, we’re just taking whatever we can get every day,” Funk said.

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