INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indy-based diagnostics lab that has developed COVID-19 tests wants to help as many people as possible. The company has already helped local hospitals and doctors with hundreds of tests, but soon they’ll have the ability to administer thousands.
From hospitality to health care, Bryan Downs may have lost his job at a local restaurant but now he’s working with others who also lost theirs to put a stop to the pandemic.
“I was with my family last Sunday and I watched Ohio close their bars, and then Illinois, we just knew it was coming at that point,” said Downs, “I’m appreciative and I’m glad to help out and hope we can get the word out and that people can get tested, so we can get ahead of this thing.”
Zak Khan hired the group. He’s a partner with Aria Diagnostics. A lab that’s now offering a test for respiratory viruses, including coronavirus.
“To play our role in it we have an opportunity, so we went out and sought servers,” said Khan, “Our current business that we normally do is down tremendously, so in that we can either sit on our laurels and not be active or two we can see the opportunity here to help our community and we’re choosing number two.”
The tests are only allowed for people who potentially have the virus and are ordered by a doctor. The Aria Diagnostic team went into the field and reached out to nearly 1,200 physicians and handed out order forms to health care providers.
“We’ve partnered with several local hospitals and we’ve provided them kits, so their staff can perform the testing themselves and then provide the collecting kits back to us for testing,” said Vipin Adhlakha, the President of Aria Diagnostics.
Nurses who have time, because non-essential surgeries are suspended have also been hired on staff to administer the tests. A drive-thru collection at the back of the lab has been added to the parking lot for testing.
“We’re in a unique position right now, taking advantage of our lower volume from our other testing and it’s freed up the laboratory resources to focus on this,” said Adhlakha, “We’ve had the opportunity to give people who are otherwise displaced, something meaningful to do and we’re really fortunate that they’ve been willing to help us.”
“They are heroes in my surgery center every day and here they are heroes as well, coming into contact with potential coronavirus patients and putting themselves at risk for the betterment of us,” Khan added.
While Khan’s lab is hard at work, he and his team want to do more. They believe everyone should be able to get tested, not just those showing symptoms and he claims he has the resources to help. Although, widespread testing is currently not available in the state of Indiana and there’s no timeline as to when that could happen.
“We currently have 2,900-something tests, we had 3,000 delivered on Saturday and we are getting 10,000 more tests delivered over the next week and a half,” said Khan, “Our goal is to play a role like any other citizen in the country, trying to help the situation in our each, individual respected capacity.”
The turnaround time for the test Aria Diagnostics developed is between 24 and 30 hours. Again, it’s only available for people who are ordered to get it by their physician.
“This type of test tests patients immediately. The need to test as many people as possible is now. It’s right now in front of us and we can fix this together,” said Khan.
If you’re wondering how Aria Diagnostics is able to create and administer their own tests, Adhlakha explained, “In situations like this, the FDA typically releases guidelines for emergency testing and about two weeks ago they lifted the limitation on private laboratories and allow them to develop their own test according to CLIA standards and CAP. So, if you follow those guidelines you can develop and validate a test in your facility as long as it meets the certain specificity criteria. And so, about two weeks ago they allowed private laboratories to do that, so we started working on that and Friday last week we had it validated and started offering it.”
If you are a health care provider and would like an order form, click here to visit the Aria Diagnostics website.