Sonic Healthcare USA Hosts U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary to Highlight Innovations in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Sonic Healthcare USA's Bernhardt Laboratories, located in Jacksonville, Florida, hosted U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at their facility last week. Bernhardt Laboratories is an anatomic pathology provider specializing in women's health, dermatopathology, and molecular pathology. Bernhardt Laboratories significantly changed its operations to mitigate supply chain challenges for Sonic Healthcare USA's COVID-19 testing initiative.
Over the last few months, Sonic Healthcare USA has been one of the leading commercial laboratories who, as a member of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), has assisted in the response for COVID-19, in close coordination with the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Sonic Healthcare USA has also worked closely with our scientific experts and medical and operational leadership to bring up multiple platforms to ensure testing access for patients. As of March 10, 2020, Sonic Healthcare USA launched molecular testing for COVID-19 and is performing over twenty thousand tests per day at our clinical laboratories. On April 21, 2020, we launched COVID-19 antibody testing to complement our existing molecular PCR testing.
"It was an honor hosting Secretary Azar to discuss and showcase the strategies we have employed to ensure testing access and timely result delivery for our patients," said Dr. Phil Chen, MD, PhD, the Chief Strategy Officer and Head of the COVID-19 Taskforce at Sonic Healthcare USA. "Secretary Azar was very informative and gracious during his visit by offering us access to explore automated technologies and associated financial support, to further expand testing capacity," added Dr. Chen.
"It is incredibly important that we continue to partner with governmental agencies aligning resources and approaches as we manage through the COVID-19 pandemic together. We are grateful to Secretary Azar for his leadership and support," said Dr. Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer of Sonic Healthcare USA.
Sonic Healthcare USA Develops Novel Return-to-Work Protocol including Laboratory Testing Algorithms
Sonic Healthcare USA's COVID-19 Taskforce Medical and Scientific Advisors have developed a novel Return-to-Work protocol consisting of laboratory testing algorithms intended to help guide employers and worksite health practitioners with their strategies to return workers and optimize ongoing monitoring and prevention.
The algorithms are optimized for molecular PCR and serology testing performed at Sonic Healthcare USA's network of Clinical Laboratories. They are designed to be deployed in conjunction with vigorous social distancing policies, syndromic surveillance and ongoing, and self-reported exposure risk assessment. The protocol also integrates with the policies and procedures for COVID-19 workplace exposure, risk triage, and employee management established by the Advisors.
Sonic Healthcare USA's novel protocol consists of two main components:
- Initial screening of the workforce for active infection and establishment of baseline exposure status.
- Ongoing workplace surveillance to detect early infections, identify, and assess exposure risks.
The Return-to-Work protocol includes available consultations for our partners and clients who are looking to implement similar guidance based laboratory testing algorithms. The algorithms can be customized for specific worksite types and requirements.
"Our Return-to-Work protocol represents the depth of our collective medical and scientific expertise and real-world experience of our Advisors," said Phil Chen, MD, PhD, the Chief Strategy Officer and Head of the COVID-19 Taskforce at Sonic Healthcare USA. "Utilizing evidence-based data combined with an optimized laboratory testing strategy are critical components of this protocol, assisting our partners with their return-to-work and workforce assurance strategies," added Dr. Chen.
Sonic Healthcare USA will continue to update its laboratory testing algorithms to accommodate the most recent medical and scientific evidence, new testing methodologies, understanding of the COVID-19 disease, and specific test performance characteristics. As a sustained leader in laboratory medicine, we will continue to develop and advance our Return-to-Work Protocol to support the return-to-work strategies of our partners.
Sonic Healthcare USA Announces Testing Availability for COVID-19
Sonic Healthcare USA has worked closely with its scientific partners and medical and operational leadership to bring up testing to ensure timely availability for patients in all geographies served by our laboratories. “We are closely monitoring capacity and are coordinating with our clinical laboratories to distribute testing that mitigates high demands from endemic regions and clusters in the United States," said Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer of Sonic Healthcare USA.
Sonic has taken comprehensive measures to expand testing capacity while maintaining high-quality testing and meeting required turnaround times. As a result, Sonic is bringing up multiple testing platforms and methodologies.
Dr. Hussong added, "In response to this public health emergency, Sonic Healthcare USA pledges to do its part and is actively monitoring the situation. Our commitment is to ensure testing is available as this pandemic evolves." The well-being of our patients and employees is our highest priority, and we continue to be committed to the medical communities we serve.
SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Media Statement
Sonic Healthcare USA’s dedicated scientific, medical and operational experts have established SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 testing in six of our laboratories across the country since March 10, 2020. Our resulting turnaround time is currently within 24-48 hours at all of our affiliated laboratories across the United States. We are closely monitoring immediate demands and actively coordinating with our affiliated clinical laboratories in real time to distribute testing capacity to mitigate high demands from endemic regions and clusters in the United States. We are taking proactive and comprehensive measures to continue to expand testing capacity while maintaining high-quality testing and the turnaround times stated above.
Sonic currently uses multiple platforms and methodologies for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 testing and will continue to add capacity as necessary to:
- Maintain critical turnaround time commitments, especially for high acuity patients in the hospitals and for symptomatic healthcare workers.
- Resolve indeterminate results or inconsistencies between test results and clinical presentation.
- Prevent service interruptions due to platform-specific supply chain issues.
We are carefully reviewing our supply chain and communicate daily with our technology and vendor partners to ensure we continue to provide quality and timely service to providers and patients in our communities.
Sonic Healthcare USA Expanding Testing Capabilities by Launching COVID-19 Antibody Testing
Sonic Healthcare USA's network of clinical laboratories has begun performing antibody testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) to complement our existing molecular PCR testing.
Sonic Healthcare USA laboratories are initially offering serology testing for SARS-CoV-2 designed to detect IgG and IgA antibodies for patients who are suspected or confirmed of having been exposed to the virus, which causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The tests are being offered for use under the FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
"Our COVID-19 Medical and Technical Advisory Taskforce has worked hard to develop guidance for our test development and platform strategy to ensure we can support our local medical communities with their testing needs,” said Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer of Sonic Healthcare USA. "It is important to reiterate that results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude SARs-CoV-2 infection or to inform infection status or immunity. Follow-up, concurrent or alternative testing with molecular diagnostic testing should be considered for patient management if clinically indicated,” added Dr. Hussong.
Sonic Healthcare USA continues to collaborate with its supply chain vendors to increase testing capacity and platforms to align with projected demand. We are committed to partnering with our local medical communities and public health officials and to be a leader in testing and transitional planning for return to work strategies over the coming weeks to mitigate this pandemic.
Sonic Healthcare USA and other Clinical Laboratory Executives Met with the White House’s Coronavirus Taskforce
This week, Academic and Commercial Reference Laboratory Executives met with Vice President, Mike Pence and members of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force to collectively discuss diagnostic testing availability for COVID-19.
Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer of Sonic Healthcare USA (Sonic), was among those who met on behalf of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) with key government officials, the CDC, and the FDA. At the meeting, key stakeholders discussed the role of state and local public health and commercial laboratories, hospitals, and academic medical centers to increase access to testing for the Coronavirus. “Our main goal, as a commercial laboratory, is to ensure those patients in need or at high-risk can access testing. By working together, we can accelerate those efforts with a coordinated and comprehensive approach,” said Dr. Hussong.
Dr. Hussong added, “Sonic Healthcare is working with its Medical, Scientific and Operational Leadership to make patient testing available through its network of commercial laboratories in the United States and will follow the FDA guidelines for Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs).” The FDA has recently updated its policy, thus providing an expedited pathway for the availability of diagnostics for COVID-19.
Sonic Healthcare will continue to lead and collaborate with colleagues, government officials, and our local medical communities in response to this immediate public health crisis.
Read the ACLA Statement on COVID-19 Testing.