Hospital with six tests left says more testing needed before reopening state

While the commonwealth clamors for a complete reopening, there is one big thing that could slow things down - the availability of tests.

BOSTON — While the commonwealth clamors for a complete reopening, there is one big thing that could slow things down - the availability of tests.

“Testing is not widely available, still,” said President of Holyoke Medical Center Spiros Hatiras. “I can’t tell you how many email messages we exchanged today being down to our last six test kits in the facility.”

Hatiras says by tomorrow Holyoke Medical Center will be out of the rapid tests which give results within 45 minutes.

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“The supply is limited and it is being diverted to big labs, Quest and big hospitals,” Hatiras said. “You never know if we’re going to get zero or 50 test kits. So re-opening without widespread testing is going to be problematic.”

We spoke with some hospitals who say they have more tests readily available, especially the larger facilities, but it’s still an issue on the radar for the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association.

“Testing is a vital component of the commonwealth’s COVID-19 response, and Massachusetts hospitals continue to test all symptomatic patients and caregiver,” said Senior Director, External Communications Catherine S. Bromberg, MBA. “Massachusetts hospitals continue to work collaboratively to identify any pending supply needs related to COVID-19 to ensure patients and healthcare professionals can receive appropriate testing and treatment. We support the state’s plan to rapidly increase testing capacity in the coming months, especially as hospitals begin to restore services and screening protocols are expanded.”

In a press conference Wednesday Gov. Charlie Baker said, “Almost 8,000 tests were reported across the Commonwealth that brings the total number of tests conducted to over 776,000.”

Baker is now allowing hospitals to begin restoring services which means those rapid tests will be helpful in avoiding a second surge.

“When we are down to zero we cannot do surgeries,” said Hatiras. “We don’t want to put anybody at risk. We are hoping tomorrow another package arrives and we get another 50 test but when you talk to the vendor they can never promise you a steady supply or what you are going to get, all we get is that we are doing the best we can to keep up with the demand.

There is another type of tests where results can take up to 2 days. Hatiras says he gets about 30 of those a day, but uses them all and is left doing a daily balancing act to accommodate needs.

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