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Cape Fear Valley Gets New COVID-19 Diagnostic Tool


FAYETTEVILLE – Cape Fear Valley Health has a new tool in its fight against COVID-19.

The state’s 8th largest health system is now using diagnostic lab equipment that can diagnose inpatients for the COVID-19 coronavirus in an hour. The BioFire® FilmArray® system cost $140,000 and was purchased with a generous donation from Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation.

The new equipment allows Cape Fear Valley to test patients suspected of having COVID-19 by performing a Respiratory Pathogen Panel (RPP) test. The tests can simultaneously check for dozens of potential targets, including bacteria, parasites, yeast, antimicrobial resistance genes, as well as viruses such as COVID-19.

The new equipment means Cape Fear Valley no longer has to send inpatient test kits out of state for testing. Patients admitted during weekends suspected of COVID-19 previously waited up to three days for results.

“We get the results in real-time now,” said Chris Tart, Cape Fear Valley Vice President of Professional Services. “That helps us place COVID-19 patients in the appropriate unit.”

BioFire Diagnostics, the equipment manufacturer, says its system can run up to 264 samples a day. Faster diagnosis means faster treatment for the correct condition.

To date, North Carolina has had confirmed 86,000 cases of COVID-19 from 1.2 million completed lab tests. More than 1,500 state residents have died and more than 1,000 are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

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