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100 days of COVID-19 testing at Letterkenny University Hospital Laboratory

After 100 days of COVID-19 testing in the Laboratory at Letterkenny University Hospital, almost 6,200 samples have been tested with results currently reported within 24 hours of receipt. The laboratory is carrying out testing on swabs taken from patients in the hospital, HSE staff (hospital and community based staff) as well as testing samples taken from members of the public referred to community testing hubs by their GPs in County Donegal.

At the start of the pandemic Letterkenny also provided testing for other hospitals within the Saolta Group for a short period of time while the hospital laboratories were scaling up their testing capacity.

In order to operate to this level the staff working in the laboratory worked extra shifts, longer hours and even had the support of two recent retirees from the Microbiology Department who returned to work and played their part in delivering an essential service to the hospital and wider community.

Jacqui Clarke, Pathology Laboratory Manager said, “I am incredibly proud of all my colleagues here in the laboratories at the hospital who are so professional, selfless and went the extra mile for our patients and each other when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. There was a can-do attitude shown from the very beginning as we entered a time of great uncertainty with massive change required to our day-to-day work.

“In particular I have to pay tribute to all the retired staff who phoned me as soon as the pandemic hit offering to return to work. We had space to take back two retired staff into the lab and they were a ray of sunshine at a very sombre time and lifted all our spirits. Their expertise was hugely valued as we introduced the new COVID-19 testing processes along with a range of other tests not routinely carried out in the hospital, but which were pivotal to the effective and timely treatment of patients with COVID-19 and which helped to prevent patients from being ventilated.”

Seán Murphy, Hospital General Manager added, “The Laboratory is a core hospital department but does not attract much attention usually as their work, which informs every diagnosis in the hospital, is very much behind the scenes. This pandemic really highlighted the critical nature of a hospital laboratory to the extent that testing has been a priority topic in Department of Health briefings since the very start and has become part of daily conversations.

“I would like to acknowledge the huge contribution of our Laboratory staff to our hospital and patients. Even though we are over the initial testing pressures, as time goes on it will be essential that we continue to provide timely and effective testing which feeds into contact tracing and isolation requirements, in order to keep the spread of this disease under control.”

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH)