Lab Matters Summer 2020 | Page 31

PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE health departments and tribal partners, and assisting with responses to general lab and biosafety related questions. A challenge Oregon has faced is the frequent turnover of personnel in various IMT roles, as well as the onboarding of new personnel assisting with the response who may lack a laboratory background or experience. Since much of the COVID-19 pandemic response revolves around laboratory testing and experience to provide informed decision making, it is critical that laboratory operations and biosafety-related terms and concepts are understood. To address this specific challenge, OSPHL and other Oregon IMT personnel have been devoting time and resources for training new personnel, and has recently created a comprehensive “COVID-19 Lab-Related Terminology” guide intended to be shared with response personnel and other partners to assist with enhancing overall laboratory related systems and fostering a shared knowledge of laboratory and biosafety related terminologies. Minnesota Department of Health Eric Lundquist, biosafety outreach coordinator In our specimen receiving area, there would typically be two to four employees working, focused on unpacking specimens and isolates, ordering tests and sending packages to the appropriate laboratory. Prior to the pandemic, The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) was able to handle around 250 specimens per day. When COVID-19 hit, we received upwards of 1,200 COVID-19 specimens per day. Due to the influx of specimens, we struggled to be efficient in our specimen receiving area, not having enough resources such as computers, printers and scanners to order tests quickly. There was also the issue of social distancing in a space that typically holds five people maximum, when instead they would have up to 10 people working at a time to handle the surge. To fix the issue of additional specimens and limited resources in a crowded space, we turned our training lab into a COVID-19 specimen receiving area. MDH ordered additional equipment (computers, printers and scanners) and arranged them into three stations. Each station has one person entering primary patient demographics and ordering the tests, another person checks the order and enters more detailed information, another scans the order forms into the computer and sends the specimens to the lab for processing. Currently MDH has 6-12 employees ordering tests quickly and safely in the converted space, while the original specimen receiving area is used for routine specimens. • PublicHealthLabs @APHL Summer 2020 LAB MATTERS 29