New coronavirus testing is coming to Texas County Memorial Hospital following the successful award of a grant from a statewide organization.

Through a $90,218 award by the Missouri Foundation for Health, the equipment will allow test results to be generated in as little as hour. The machinery will have implications for the region as samples can be tested at TCMH, the board of trustees heard Tuesday.

TCMH has tested 27 patients for COVID-19,  and all results have returned as “negative.” There have been no confirmed cases in the county. The hospital has struggled to obtain the test results for patients in a timely manner, prompting the hospital to begin looking for other options.

Although many of the recent COVID-19 test results have been received in about two days, some of the first tests the hospital sent out took nearly two weeks, causing unnecessary stress for the patients who had to wait, officials said.

Many healthcare organizations including area physician clinics, Salem District Memorial Hospital, nursing facilities and health departments from Douglas, Shannon, Texas and Wright counties can send their COVID-19 tests directly to the TCMH laboratory for immediate processing.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer this service to our community,” Wes Murray, TCMH chief executive officer, said.

Murray added that in addition to the COVID-19 testing capabilities, the new analyzer will give the hospital laboratory the ability to process blood culture identification and  gastrointestinal panels, which are commonly ordered by the hospital’s physicians. Previously those had to be sent out for processing.

Murray credited Jay Gentry, TCMH Healthcare Foundation director, for working with other healthcare organizations and the Missouri Foundation for Health to land the grant.

TCMH anticipates it will be in place and fully operational by mid-May.

Based in St. Louis, Missouri Foundation for Health is an independent philanthropic foundation dedicated to improving the health of the uninsured and underserved in the region. TCMH has received grants for other projects from MFH in the past.

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