Live Coverage: Assay Assesment
This morning, Jenifer K. Meece, PhD, director, Marshfield (WI) Clinic, presented Assay Assesment and Implementation in an Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreak at ASM, focusing on challenges and opportunities discovered in light of the H1N1 pandemic.
The Marshfield family includes a large, rural, multispecialty clinic in central Wisconsin with 46 regional centers; a large, private, full-service reference laboratory, servicing 48 states and a large outreach service; as well as the clinic research foundation, where Dr. Meece works, which has the goal of advancing the pace at which research moves from the benchtop to the bedside.
Marshfield also provides surge capacity testing for the state and is one of four sites funded by the CDC to evaluate influenza vaccine effectiveness.
As of 2004, many available influenza rapid test kits were deemed not sensitive or specific enough for routine diagnostic use and could not provide subtyping, which became paramount during the H1N1 pandemic. However, many facilities, including Marshfield, were still using them. While positive results were useful, Dr. Meece stressed clinicians did not understand that negative results were not necessarily accurate.
During the H1N1 pandemic, Marshfield was called on by the state to provide surge capacity testing and transitioned into a screening mode, processing 200-300 tests each day. While performing this function was greatly appreciated by the facilities serviced, the extra testing also gave Marshfield the opportunity to provide its own clinicians and employees with important results crucial to stemming the pandemic in the local community, as well as the opportunity to evaluate newer, more accurate tests, such as RT-PCR, and to train staff on the new technology.
The staff learned important lessons, such as establishing strong ties with public health officials, being prepared to rapidly scale up operations, and understanding expectations of your facility in the event of a pandemic.