July 22, 2021

COVID-19 testing milestone!

Our COVID-19 testing clinics at Northern Hospital Epping and Craigieburn Centre have hit a significant milestone of 200,000 presentations through the clinics.

Elisha O’Dowd, Acting Project Manager COVID-19 Clinics and Entry Screening, said the testing clinics opened in early March 2020 in response to the increasing demand for COVID-19 testing in our community, and since then, the program has evolved with the fluctuating needs of the pandemic.

“This year, Craigieburn and Epping have been hit hard with multiple exposure sites in our local area, so they have each completed over 40,000 tests since January,” Elisha said.

“We are very proud of the resilience and teamwork shown by all the nurses, clerical staff, security and traffic controllers, who work tirelessly in wind, rain, hail, cold and heat to bring this vital service to our community.”

Colin Pham, Molecular Senior Scientist, said the Northern Health Pathology team processes between 400 to 500 tests per day during “regular times”, but has peaked to 1,200 tests during the current surge in testing.

“We operate between 7 am – 11.30 pm seven days a week. The Molecular Lab has two staff members on each shift with a total team of eight. They have gone above and beyond, including taking on extra shifts at short notice and staying back late to ensure that COVID-19 results are released in a timely manner.”

“Our testing surge comes in waves. In the previous surge in late May, early June, we released over 1,500 results per day well within 24 hours. During these times, the laboratory often processes close to 100 specimens per hour. To facilitate rapid contact tracing, the laboratory often receives requests to prioritise specimens from high risk patients. We often need to pick out these priority samples from a sea of specimens.”

“Our Molecular Department came into existence in April 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has exceeded all expectations. This is due to the teamwork and commitment of all involved, in particular the Molecular and COVID-19 registration team. I am especially proud and honoured to be working with such a dynamic and dedicated crew. ”

Thank you to our hard working staff, nurses, traffic controllers, Pathology team and everyone who has come forward for testing. Together, you have all played an important role in keeping our community safe.

Northern Health urges anyone, even with the mildest of symptoms, to get tested. For more information, visit nh.org.au/coronavirus.

Staff at the Craigieburn Centre Testing Clinic

Featured image: Nurses and traffic controllers celebrating 200,000 COVID-19 tests