CHRISTUS Health Offers ‘Game Changer’ Antibodies Test for COVID-19
CHRISTUS Health System is first in the communities it serves to offer new screening tool
CHRISTUS Health announced today it is now offering a new screening tool to some patients, as well as doctors, nurses and other CHRISTUS Associates on the frontlines to learn who has been infected with COVID-19—AND—who might now carry protective antibodies.
“CHRISTUS Health is a safe place to receive care, with high-reliability processes and procedures for infection prevention and mitigating the spread of illness,” explained Dr. Sam Bagchi, CHRISTUS Health’s EVP and Chief Clinical Officer. “Beginning today, we are adding the unprecedented additional layer of antibody screening to help survey for asymptomatic COVID-19 infections among patients and caregivers.”
For the last several weeks, the team has quickly assessed the test’s reliability and then deployed the kits to CHRISTUS hospitals and ambulatory sites across the United States and Latin America. The test produces results in approximately 10 minutes and has been validated internally for screening for COVID-19 infections.
“CHRISTUS is the first in our communities, and is leading the nation by using advanced COVID-19 antibody testing to screen people in our facilities to determine if they have had a COVID-19 infection in the past or have one now,” said Dave Benner, PharmD, MS, MHA, FACHE Vice President, Clinical Ancillary Services.
The country’s leading scientists believe antibody-based tests to be essential in the war against COVID-19.
“This would be a game-changer in restarting parts of the economy more quickly and safely,” Dr. Harvey Fineberg, a professor in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote in an April 1 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.
CHRISTUS will first begin using the test on Associates and caregivers on the frontlines. The rapid screening tool will also be used on hospitalized patients that the clinical team believes may have been infected with COVID-19 as well as patients who are scheduled for an urgent surgery.
“People should not put off urgent and emergent procedures, and should continue to seek the care they need. We know that, regardless of COVID-19, heart attacks and strokes have not stopped. We need to be able to treat people who urgently need to be in an operating room,” said Dr. Bagchi. “With the availability of an antibody test, we can test anyone who comes in for an urgent surgery. This will allow us to reliably know if a patient has COVID-19 before they start having symptoms or might normally be tested.”
This innovative screening solution is in an addition to the ongoing PCR tests many providers, including CHRISTUS, are able to perform. PCR is a laboratory technique known as polymerase chain reaction, and is the current FDA-approved test for diagnosing patients with COVID-19.
This is part of the work that CHRISTUS continues to do every day to keep its facilities safe from the spread of infection. To keep all who enter hospitals and clinics safe we have added the following precautions:
- Limiting visitors;
- Screening everyone who comes through our doors;
- Isolating COVID-19 patients to one area of the facility;
- Random temperature checks for Associates;
- Requiring all Associates and visitors to wear masks;
- Using telemedicine to treat active COVID-19 patients, so their caregivers and support staff limit the number of times they enter their rooms.
- Virtual medicine is now available in every one of the CHRISTUS ministries at christushealth.org/virtual-medicine
March 3, 2020
CHRISTUS Health Statement Regarding COVID-19
CHRISTUS values the importance of collaboration and coordinated action for the identification and care of those patients exhibiting signs of the COVID-19. Which is why we continue to follow CDC interim guidelines and work non-stop, in partnership with local, state and federal government authorities. We are fortunate to be part of a local health care community committed to responding to the needs of these patients in the safest manner necessary.
In the event that possible coronavirus patients need hospitalization after screening, we have identified a portion of our facility as the best place to allow us to isolate and safely care for any potential patients without risk of transmission to other parts of the facility.
At CHRISTUS, we have always screened patient to our clinical points of access for international travel, to assess for various evolving infectious disease risks, including this one. If a patient meets the current CDC criteria, and is exhibiting symptoms consistent with the virus, we will isolate the patient in a private room and take proper respiratory precautions to safely assess and treat them
If you are ill with fever and cough or shortness of breath and have had travel to any region that has known community spread of coronavirus, please contact your primary care provider before coming to the clinic so we can be sure to provide you with the best care possible while doing everything we can to keep our community healthy.
It’s still flu season. We continue to encourage all our patients and the community to practice good respiratory hygiene habits, like washing hands frequently and covering mouths while coughing especially during times like this where catching the flu is a far greater risk.
In summary, the best things you can do to prevent the spread of illness are:
- Wash your hands well before eating, drinking, or touching your face
- Get your annual flu shot and
- Get a pneumonia shot if you have not already and are above the age of 65 or have diabetes or other illnesses that affect your heart or lungs.
CHRISTUS Health currently convenes daily, sometimes more, to check in on our emergency preparedness plans. We have had many hands on deck during this process. Nearly everyone — from physicians and nurses, quality and safety experts to those responsible for ordering supplies and keeping the hospital clean — is involved in making sure we can do best for our patients our Associates and this community we serve.
For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 visit CDC.gov.