ARUP And Quest Raise Minimum Hourly Wage To $15

ARUP And Quest Raise Minimum Hourly Wage To $15

ARUP And Quest Raise Minimum Hourly Wage To $15

ARUP Laboratories (Salt Lake City, UT) says that it will increase its minimum hourly wage to $15 effective November 27. All new hires and approximately 600 employees who currently earn less than the new minimum will be paid $15 per hour or more. In addition, about 2,800 hourly employees who already earn more than $15 per hour also will get raises with the higher minimum hourly wage. ARUP has about 4,500 employees, most of whom work in University of Utah Research Park.

Effective November 7, Quest Diagnostics says that it will adjust its hourly rate to $15 for the small number of employees who were below that level. In addition, Quest will make a non-taxable payment ($500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time and per diem) to approximately 47,500
employees to offset financial challenges due to the pandemic.

Finally, Quest noted that another year of pandemic pressures and travel restrictions have made it very difficult for many of its employees to take their paid time off (PTO). Therefore, Quest said it is providing a payout of most unused PTO for its hourly employees to ensure they don’t forfeit it at
the end of the year.

Recently, Labcorp also announced it was raising its minimum wage to $15 (see LE, September 2021).

Covid-19 Situation Update At Five Laboratories

Covid-19 Situation Update At Five Laboratories

Covid-19 Situation Update At Five Laboratories

Viracor Eurofins Laboratories (Lee’s Summit, MO) has the capacity to perform 2,000 PCR-based Covid-19 tests per day; however, about 50% of that capacity is currently unused, according to Steven Kleiboeker, PhD, Vice President of Research and Development. Nationwide, Eurofins U.S. Clinical Diagnostics, which includes Viracor and six other laboratories, has the capacity to run up to 10,000 PCR tests per day and expects to triple that number by the end of this month.

Viracor launched Covid-19 antibody testing on May 5 and has the capacity to perform more than 2,000 tests per day with a 24-hour turnaround from specimen receipt. Nationwide, Kleiboeker says that Eurofins’ seven labs can currently perform up to 10,000 antibody tests per day with capacity expected to triple by the end of this month.

Kleiboeker expects the demand for Covid-19 testing to increase dramatically as lockdowns in many states have begun to be lifted. That being said, Eurofins currently has excess testing capacity. “This is due to a variety of factors, including hospitals taking their testing in-house, supply-chain issues, and on the coasts, exclusive deals between the top insurance companies and the two largest labs,” according to Kleiboeker.

ARUP Laboratories
ARUP Labs is currently performing between 3,000 and 3,500 PCR-based Covid-19 tests per day and steadily increasing its capacity, according to Julio Delgado, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Labs. He says that the swab and test kit supply situation has improved over the past few weeks and that ARUP has expanded its Covid-19 testing from Utah patients only to nationwide. In addition, ARUP began Covid-19 antibody testing in late April and is now performing about 5,000 antibody tests per day with steadily increasing capacity.

Northwell Health Labs
Northwell is currently performing about 2,000 PCR-based Covid-19 tests per day, according to James Crawford, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President for Laboratory Services. He says daily positivity rates for Covid testing peaked at 63% on March 31 and have now fallen to roughly 15%. In response to shortages, Northwell has begun using its own self-manufactured 3D swabs, which were clinically validated before deploying. In addition, Northwell started performing antibody testing on May 1 using multiple commercial platforms. Northwell is currently performing about 5,000 antibody tests per day and is in the process of testing its 70,000 employees.

American Health Associates
American Health Associates (Davie, FL), which provides lab testing services to more than 4,000 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, recently began performing PCR-based Covid-19 testing and serum antibody testing at its corporate laboratory near Miami. Previously, AHA had sent its Covid-19 test samples to LabCorp. AHA is using the 7500 Fast Dx instrument from Thermo Fisher Scientific in combination with Thermo’s 96 Kingfisher auto extraction unit for PCR-based Covid-19 testing. AHA will be using Abbott’s Covid-19 antibody test. In addition, AHA plans to soon add Covid-19 testing capabilities to its labs in Atlanta and Cincinnati, according to CEO Chris Martin. AHA is currently performing an average of roughly 100 PCR-based Covid-19 tests per day and 350 antibody tests. Martin expects AHA’s Covid-19 testing volume to expand rapidly in the coming weeks.

BioReference Labs
To date (through May 6), BioReference has performed approximately 700,000 PCR-based Covid-19 tests, is currently performing about 20,000 tests per day, and plans to reach 40,000 by the end of the month. In late April, BioReference started offering Covid-19 antibody testing. Capacity is currently 20,000 tests per day and is expected to reach 400,000 tests per day in June, according to Jon Cohen, MD, Executive Chairman of BioReference Labs. Roche will be the primary antibody assay used by BioReference.

ARUP And Quest Raise Minimum Hourly Wage To $15

Spotlight Interview with ARUP Laboratories’ Julio Delgado

Spotlight Interview with ARUP Laboratories’ Julio Delgado

ARUP Laboratories (Salt Lake City) began PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 – the
virus that causes Covid-19 – March 12 and is currently able to run about 3,000 tests per day. Due to supply constraints, ARUP announced March 16 that it would focus SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing on clients within the state of Utah. Laboratory Economics recently spoke with Chief Medical Officer Julio Delgado, MD, about the pandemic and what ARUP is doing to ramp up testing.

Is ARUP’s Covid-19 test volume primarily for symptomatic hospital patients?
The majority of the samples we are doing are from symptomatic patients and healthcare workers. We also are supporting drive-through testing. (As of April 12, Utah had tested more than 45,000 residents and had 2,207 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 18 deaths.)

Is your lab experiencing any shortage of test supplies, reagents or sample collection swabs?
Everything has been a challenge, every single aspect of this. Anything we need to do this test we have run into supply chain issues—collection devices, media for transport, reagents, instrumentation, everything. We can only promise five days ahead of time in terms of our capacity. It was really bad in the beginning, and it’s a little better now, but it’s still a challenge. We don’t have long term commitments from any vendors for supplies.

Are most coronavirus tests being ordered in conjunction with a respiratory virus panel?

We saw that initially, but that has decreased. It started with a one-to-one ratio, then it went to two-to-one, five-to-one—now it’s approximately twenty-to-one. The two tests are run on the same instrumentation. In Utah, clinicians are focused primarily on Covid-19 as we move out of the winter.

How many coronavirus tests can your lab perform per day?
We have capacity for about 3,000 a day. The challenge is that because we cannot secure a continuous supply chain, we can only take so many samples.

Are test orders exceeding capacity?
Since we closed the national offering, we have managed much better. We got completely flooded—in the beginning we had thousands of orders coming in. I believe we made the right decision for patient care to stop testing nationally. Of those initial national requests, we processed several
internally, and we sent some to commercial reference laboratories, but they were backlogged, too. We finally were able to report everything, but it took a long time.

Does ARUP currently perform an antibody test for Covid-19?
Not today, but we are working on it. We are hoping to have it ready in a week or two. This will be used for convalescent individuals and people who think they may have had the virus. This will help determine if someone has developed immunity and whether they can go back to work.

Has ARUP seen a decline in non-Covid-19 testing?
Yes, absolutely. With 80% of the country at home, people are not going to medical checkups, elective surgeries are not being done. Non-Covid testing is down at least 25% and decreasing.

Which instrument system does ARUP use to perform Covid-19 testing?
We have been using Hologic instruments [Panther Fusion]. We are getting ready to start using Roche cobas, so we will be using both. We hope to be able to run more tests, beyond 3,000, but that depends on the supply chain.

What precautions are you taking to protect lab employees from getting the virus?
We are doing everything dictated by the CDC. So far, we have been lucky—none of our virology lab workers have contracted the virus as far as I know. Those who are running the tests are using N95 masks, face shields, gowns. So far, we have had enough personal protective equipment, but we have not been able to replenish it at the same rate we were before. The lab staff are keeping at least six feet apart.

Could the warmer more humid weather in the spring/summer slow down the spread of Covid-19?
I don’t know. What’s your turnaround time for Covid-19 testing results?
We are promising within three to four days, but in most cases it’s two days. Hologic is a random-access instrument, which allows us to incorporate testing and move things ahead – that way we can prioritize testing for very sick patients.

Are you doing any rapid testing?
We have two BioFire instruments in the hospital system. They do one test at a time, and it takes about 45 minutes. We are using them judiciously in very critical and emergency situations. We also have several Abbott ID NOW instruments, and we have ordered tests, but areas with critical needs are being prioritized. We are on the list, and at some point we will get them.

Do you believe that surveillance testing of non-symptomatic people for Covid-19 is needed?
I believe so, but with the limitations of the supply chain, we aren’t able to do that. Right now, testing is all reactive. Surveillance testing would give us a better understanding of the epidemiology and the curves that each of the states will go through.