Patient Care

Fact Sheet: UR Medicine Testing for COVID-19

Mar. 19, 2020

Since opening in June 2019, the UR Medicine central lab has processed millions of patient tests. Soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, the lab began working to obtain government approvals, equipment and supplies to provide COVID-19 testing on-site. We appreciate the support we have received from the Governor’s office, Clinical Laboratory Evaluation Program, and Wadsworth Laboratory in these efforts. The lab began processing COVID-19 tests on March 16. 

Who needs testing

It’s natural for anyone who believes they came in contact with a COVID-19 patient to want testing, whether they have symptoms or not. However, more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild and don’t require extensive medical care. Most people in reasonably good health who become infected with novel coronavirus will feel symptoms like a cold or mild flu. They get well by practicing self-care at home, staying isolated to avoid spread of the virus.

Testing resources continue to be limited nationwide, and CDC guidelines tell clinicians that patients whose symptoms can be managed at home should NOT be tested unless done as part of a health department investigation. The result won’t affect their course of care, whether positive or negative for COVID-19.

Following these clinical guidelines, UR Medicine Labs places a top priority on processing COVID 19 tests for high-risk patients, symptomatic health care workers, EMTs, or others directly involved in addressing the COVID crisis. We also continue to prioritize testing for people who are hospitalized, live in long-term care facilities or whose health is compromised by other illnesses – where the test result will help to guide their care. The test won’t affect their care, but a negative result will allow these people to return to caring for patients sooner

In addition, UR Medicine Labs is supporting asymptomatic testing requirements for certain groups as put forth by the Governor. These groups include: nursing home employees, patients being admitted to the hospital, patients awaiting discharge to a nursing home or other long-term care facility, and patients scheduled for outpatient elective procedures.

How testing works

  1. Specimen collection:  A healthcare provider, wearing mask and protective eyewear, obtains a nasopharyngeal sample by inserting a swab deep into the nasal passage of the patient.
  2. Transport: Patient sample gets sealed in the COVID-19 collection kit and transported to the lab via a lab courier.
  3. Collection and tracking: Collection kit is brought to the UR Medicine lab and labeled for tracking.
  4. Testing: Analytical processing and testing happens in a biosafety level 2 area lab. The room has negative pressure to prevent transmission of viruses during the testing process.  
  5. Reports: Results are reported to the health care provider; UR Medicine also shares results data with the NYSDOH and county health departments as they work to track active cases and manage the response to this health care emergency.

Lab turnaround times

  • UR Medicine Central Lab – most results available within one day (depending on availability of testing supplies)

What patients should do if they think they are ill with COVID-19

  • Call their health care provider, or email using the MyChart patient portal
  • Call the UR Medicine COVID-19 support line at 1-888-928-0011.  
  • Do not appear at a provider’s office, Urgent Care, or Emergency Room requesting to be tested. 
  • People who do not have a health care provider can also contact the Monroe County Health Department for advice at  (585) 753-5555, or Email COVID19@monroecounty.gov