By Debra Moore
When Sierra Institute needed rapid COVID-19 test results so it could send its youth crews out into the woods this month, it turned to Plumas District Hospital.
That’s because rather than the three to five day turnaround times for most coronavirus tests — when test samples are sent out to commercial laboratories — the Quincy hospital has equipment capable of processing samples on site and generating same-day results.
Plumas District Hospital announced the procurement and installation of the equipment earlier this year, but only recently received the reagents necessary to carry out testing.
“It’s amazing that a hospital of our size has this type of equipment,” said Darren Beatty, the hospital’s chief operations officer. He credits lab manager Hannah Mirrashed Ph.D. for searching out the equipment and negotiating the contract for the equipment, which included a constant source of the reagents which can be in short supply.
Also to receive credit are the Plumas District Hospital Volunteers who funded the $60,000 equipment purchase entirely with funds from operating the Bargain Boutique, its store located on Main Street in Quincy. The volunteers have paid for a host of items for the hospital over the years such as its state-of-the-art mammography machine, as well paid for a great deal of the remodeling that has been done at the hospital.
This new piece of equipment comes at a critical time as the need for rapid, accurate COVID-19 testing continues to increase. A quicker turnaround allows those testing positive to isolate and for the county health department to begin the tracing and investigating process as soon as possible.
BioFire is not solely for COVID-19; it can be used on other infectious diseases as well.