A Geisinger technician works on a new Hologic Panther Fusion System, which enables the health care facility to process COVID-19 tests more efficiently and quickly.

Geisinger’s laboratory in Danville has been working around the clock to give accurate and quick results from increased testing for COVID-19 among patients in central and Northeast Pennsylvania.

To help protect our communities and to equip the laboratory with the necessary tools, Geisinger used donated funds to purchase a new Hologic Panther Fusion System. The equipment aligns with existing instruments to increase capacity and efficiency for the Geisinger laboratory.

“The Panther system has received FDA approval for emergency use for epidemiologic testing ofrespiratory samples for COVID-19,” said Raquel M. Martinez, Ph.D., system director of microbial diagnostics. “What that means is that it gives our laboratory the ability to participate in testing of high-risk patient populations, such as nursing homes and others that may be required of us as the state reopens elective surgery and we return to clinic openings.”

The new equipment increased Geisinger’s testing capacity by more than 70 percent, a jump from the processing 5,528 tests per week to 21,278 tests per week. That larger capacity provides greater access to testing for the community, allowing for faster diagnosis and effective containment and contact tracing. Having the higher testing capacity also allows Geisinger’s caregivers to quickly rule out possible COVID-19 exposure, saving personal protective equipment for inpatients.

In addition, the Panther instrument is robotic and automated and records and stores the results in the laboratory information system, said Donna M. Wolk, Ph.D., division director of molecular and microbial diagnostics and development at Geisinger. “This equipment saves us time by saving our laboratory scientists from needing to manually type in results so they can instead they review the results for validity. The instrument is low-maintenance, low-waste and provides high accuracy and reproducibility.”

The cost for this equipment is nearly $300,000 and $250,000 of it was offset by philanthropic funds.

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