July 20, 2020

Central Specimen Reception (CSR): At the centre of COVID-19 testing

Prior to COVID-19, a busy day at Northern Pathology Victoria would be to register between 1200 to 1300 requests a day.

“However with the latest outbreak and lockdown, we have seen the volume of testing increase quite dramatically. At one stage, we were processing approximately 1500 swabs a day” says, Dr Frank Hong, Director, Northern Pathology Victoria.

“Every time we open a new fever clinic we have to decide if we are testing in-house or sending it out. The process we decide on today could change tomorrow or next week,” says Frank.

“Our staff have been on this journey with us and to their credit have accommodated the numerous changes that happens constantly as the COVID-19 situation evolved, helping to maintain the impressive turnaround time for COVID-19 tests,” he adds.

“When the specimens come we need to first time – stamp them, then data entry, scan the request form, take the samples to the lab… there is a lot of work. There is also the fact that health care workers and pre-operation patients need to be prioritised,” says Agnes Poczwardowska, second in charge for the Central Specimen Reception (CSR) at Northern Pathology Victoria.

“Our team bonds well, and I would like to thank them. They are the best team ever!” says Agnes.

CSR was also able to call on help from other departments, to provide additional resource. “We want to thank Health Information Service (HIS) and the Finance team. More recently we have also got medical students from the University of Melbourne, chipping in and helping us with registering the samples and to prepare samples in the molecular lab. It’s really a team effort,”says Frank.

“The team has been very resilient and adaptable to all the changes. Hats off to them for getting through all that work,”adds Frank.

Dr Prahlad Ho, Program Director of Diagnostic Services, says, “The Northern Pathology CSR team is a vital line of defence in our fight against the pandemic. Frank and the CSR Team are doing an amazing job and I would like to thank them for their tireless efforts.”

Featured pictures shows Agnes Poczwardowska on right in discussion with the CSR team.