Press release from the Mountain Area Health Education Center:
Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) partners with local laboratory, CommunityLab, for COVID-19 testing services at the MAHEC Family Health Center at Biltmore. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Western North Carolina and testing remains important for any symptomatic individuals, even if they are fully vaccinated.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in the U.S. are rising again after months of reported declines and in North Carolina new cases and the percent positivity rate have both increased in the past week.
Dr. Bryan Hodge, Chair of the Department of Community and Public Health at UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC noted there has been a recent uptick in the past week for both COVID-19 cases and other respiratory cases.
“With the current state of many people returning to social activities, it’s important to remember that any respiratory symptoms or other symptom attributed to COVID-19 should still be taken seriously, even if you are vaccinated,” said Hodge. “It’s very important for symptomatic individuals to test for COVID-19 to help identify cases early, mitigate spread, and ensure appropriate treatment.”
MAHEC started using CommunityLab for COVID-19 testing services in April 2021. “Their commitment to outstanding customer relations and timely results was a key factor in our decision,” said Hodge. “CommunityLab’s dedication to prioritizing local partnerships and increasing access to COVID-19 testing in Western North Carolina was helpful for us as we recognize from prior experience that laboratory supply chains are not always reliable. Having a local laboratory option with a lab we know and trust helps ensure we are best served in the future.”
Currently, MAHEC clinicians and/or clinical staff collect nasopharyngeal swab specimens from their patients and CommunityLab’s courier picks up samples at their facility six days a week, Monday – Saturday. The specimens are then tested at CommunityLab using the gold-standard PCR testing for COVID-19. Results are available within 24 hours (typically the same day) from the Arden-based lab and delivered digitally in real-time to MAHEC.
“During such dynamic times, we’ve been fortunate to have a local laboratory partnership that’s been so reliable and responsive to our needs,” said Hodge.
About CommunityLab:CommunityLab, a division of Sanesco, specializes in molecular and diagnostic laboratory testing. CommunityLab is devoted to improving health, wellness, and quality of life for all people and communities in WNC. The development of CommunityLab and collaboration with the WNC community is driven by the targeted investment and support of Dogwood Health Trust.Sanesco International Inc. is a global leader providing specialty, neuroendocrine laboratory testing for healthcare providers, hospital networks, reference laboratories, and research partners for over a decade. Sanesco’s high-complexity, CLIA-certified clinical laboratory has tested hundreds of thousands of patients, amassing one of the largest repositories of human stress response data. Most importantly, Sanesco is driven by its mission to improve quality of life.
About MAHEC:MAHEC was established in 1974 to improve training and retention of healthcare professionals across Western North Carolina (WNC). They are dedicated to excellence in clinical care, health professions education, and innovative practices that can be replicated nationally. MAHEC provides quality, compassionate family medicine, ob/gyn, and dental care through more than 170,000 annual patient visits. Located in Asheville, MAHEC serves North Carolina’s 16 westernmost counties. They are the largest of the nine state AHECs that address national and state concerns with the supply, retention, and quality of health professionals especially in rural areas of the state.