• By Lynda de Widt

Mayo Clinic in Florida expands specimen testing and processing capabilities for COVID-19

March 31, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayo Clinic in Florida is significantly ramping up efforts to process and test COVID-19 specimens for existing patients and the Florida region. In an effort to help the local community during the current pandemic, Mayo Clinic Laboratories will analyze large volumes of specimens that are sent in from regional hospitals, as well as samples collected on-site from existing Mayo Clinic patients.

The expanded capacity is made possible by high-throughput diagnostic processors from Roche Diagnostics, running the Roche cobas® SARS-CoV-2 Test. Using this system, the Mayo Clinic lab will be able to process more than 1,000 tests per day and will expand capacity over time. In the coming weeks, the volume of testing performed will continue to increase with samples sent to Mayo from other hospitals and health care institutions around the state of Florida and the Southeast region.

Results will typically be reported within 24 hours of testing.

"In the days and weeks to come, we will be working closely with other health care institutions in the region to assist in processing some of their test samples and significantly increase the overall volume of COVID-19 testing done," says Kent Thielen, M.D., CEO, Mayo Clinic in Florida. "With faster and increased capacity of testing performed in our laboratories, we hope to provide a valuable service to the community and those affected by this virus."

Dr. Thielen adds: "Faster turnaround of test results will help us better define who is and who is not infected. This means a negative test result obtained in a timely fashion will allow us to make treatment decisions for these patients faster, free up much-needed hospital beds, and reduce the amount of personal protective equipment worn by health care workers treating these patients."

"We will gradually increase our volume of testing over time," says Aziza Nassar, M.D., chair, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic in Florida. "Our testing methods have an extremely fast turnaround time and our capacity will begin with a volume of about 8,000 tests processed every week."

Mayo Clinic in Florida is now offering all existing Mayo Clinic patients drive-through specimen collection for COVID-19 testing. The hours of operation are 8 a.m.–2 p.m. daily on campus. Mayo Clinic staff will collect samples, using appropriate precautions, and utilize Mayo Clinic Laboratories for analyses.

To qualify for testing, established Mayo patients must be screened by a Mayo Clinic provider, who will determine if the patient meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's testing guidelines, as well as Mayo's Infection Control and Prevention guidelines. In most cases, this screening will occur over the phone. Established Mayo patients should phone their Mayo provider for additional information. Patients approved for testing will be instructed to proceed to the drive-through screening location on Mayo's Jacksonville campus, bringing with them their unique Mayo Medical Record Number (MRN) and driver's license or other picture ID. This information is required to confirm the patient has received testing approval from a Mayo provider.

Watch: Dr. Hata discusses specimen testing in Florida.

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Jane Hata are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy "Jane Hata, Ph.D. / Clinical Microbiology / Mayo Clinic."

In order to increase capacity for the expected volumes of samples collected, Mayo's clinical staff came up with innovative solutions. "We turned a conference room into a laboratory within 48 hours," says D. Jane Hata, Ph.D., Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic in Florida. "We added plumbing for sinks, shelving, and refrigerators and freezers. It was a team effort to bring this to life, and I'm grateful for the tremendous service we can offer during this time."

Mayo patients who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a call from a Mayo Clinic provider. Patients with negative test results will receive a message through Patient Online Services. All results will be made available through the patient portal.

Mayo Clinic is also offering COVID-19 specimen testing at its Rochester, Minnesota, and Phoenix, Arizona, campuses.

At Mayo Clinic COVID-19 mobile collection sites, news media should respect the privacy of patients and refrain from shooting video or photos of these sites. Mayo Clinic is concerned that fear of publicity will lead patients who need testing to avoid it. Also, drones or helicopters hovering overhead, and photographers zooming in, are distressing and distracting for patients and staff.

Mayo Clinic has made broadcast-quality, informative photos and video available to news media via the Mayo Clinic News Network. Comprehensive and updated information on COVID-19 is on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

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About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news and An Inside Look at Mayo Clinic for more information about Mayo.

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Check the CDC website for additional updates on COVID-19. For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

For Media: "Right-click/save-as" for Mayo Clinic Laboratory in Florida images below. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network." 

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