November 4, 2021

Rapid Antigen Testing Team

Northern Health’s Rapid Antigen Testing Clinic has been up and running for a month, seeing around 90 patients per day. With the working hours now extended  to 24/7, the team is expecting to see even a larger number of patients.

Dr Victoria Madigan, Infectious Diseases Physician, together with Clare McCarthy, Director Quality, Safety and Patient Experience, were asked to set up the team and get the clinic running.

The clinic has already made a big difference for the Emergency Department, in terms of identifying COVID-19 positive patients faster and getting them access to treatment.

“This is also helping the whole hospital, because we are able to identify the patients with COVID-19 earlier and move them to a more appropriate location,” Dr Madigan added.

The test is simple and easy to use, with results available within 15 minutes. The team have done a little over 2,000 tests so far and they are very pleased with the results.

“It’s not quite as sensitive or precise as the PCR test, but it’s pretty good, especially for patients who are in an earlier stage of their illness and are more likely to be infectious. The test is a swab that needs to be put into each nostril and then the swab goes into the fluid-filled tube. The test comes up showing if you are positive or negative, similar to a pregnancy test,” Dr Madigan explained.

To help the clinic run quickly and efficiently, the team employs nursing students, like local Epping resident, Vi Nguyen.

“I work closely with our patients, making sure their details are correct and I conduct the tests as well, while supporting the admin and clinical teams. Epping is my local community and it feels great to give back and be involved with so many sides to the COVID-19 response. I really appreciate the opportunities given by Northern Health and getting to work in so many areas. It gives me experience to become a better nurse in the future,” he said.

“Vi is part of an amazing little team to work with,” said Clare. “We’ve pulled together a workforce of different stripes who rallied really quickly and value their contribution to our COVID response. They are such an asset to Northern Health from varying disciplines, all motivated to support our local community.”

Clare added, “accolades go to our Emergency Department colleagues who have guided and supported us with this initiative – that’s basically in their front yard.”

The testing team: Vi Nguyen, Victoria Madigan, Clare McCarthy and Julie Hamilton.

Featured image: Vi Nguyen with the testing kit