Reduced turnaround times through multi-sectoral community collaboration during the first surge of SARS-CoV-2 and associated effect on patient care and hospital operations

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BACKGROUND: In March 2020, an influx of admissions in COVID-19 positive patients threatened to overwhelm healthcare facilities in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Exacerbating this problem was an overall shortage of diagnostic testing capability at that time, resulting in a delay in time-to-result return. An improvement in diagnostic testing availability and timeliness was necessary to improve the allocation of resources and ultimate throughput of patients. The management of a COVID-19 positive patient or patient under investigation requires infection control measures that can quickly consume personal protective equipment (PPE) stores and personnel available to treat these patients. Critical shortages of both PPE and personnel also negatively impact care in patients admitted with non-COVID-19 illnesses. METHODS: A multisectoral partnership of healthcare providers, facilities and academicians created a molecular diagnostic lab within an academic research facility dedicated to testing inpatients and healthcare personnel for SARS-CoV-2. The purpose of the laboratory was to provide a temporary solution to the East Baton Rouge Parish healthcare community until individual facilities were self-sustaining in testing capabilities. We describe the partnership and the impacts of this endeavor by developing a model derived from a combination of data sources, including electronic health records, hospital operations, and state and local resources. FINDINGS: Our model demonstrates two important principles: the impact of reduced turnaround times (TAT) on potential differences in inpatient population numbers for COVID-19 and savings in PPE attributed to the more rapid TAT.

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PloS one

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