The Arkansas Department of Health announced this week that it will partner with Baptist Health to increase its COVID-19 testing capacity by 20%. Governor Asa Hutchinson said that increasing the testing capacity will allow the state to depend less on commercial labs, which often delays turnaround time on test results, Gov. Hutchinson said.
A new Thermo Fisher machine ordered by the ADH will be housed at Baptist Health Little Rock, with hospital staff operating the machine 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Baptist Health CEO Troy Wells. Rather than sending up to 1,000 tests to commercial labs, Wells said, the hospital will process them to the benefit the hospital and to help satisfy the state’s desire for more timely results. The new machine is expected to be operational in early October.
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said the partnership with Baptist not only reduces the need to send tests to out-of-state labs but also helps the state work on mandated testing with nursing homes and other facilities.