April 3, 2020

Wayne State University and Wayne State University Physician Group partner to speed point-of-care COVID-19 testing at DMC hospitals

Supported by a grant from Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson, Wayne State University Physician Group has purchased four new devices that will provide rapid, on-site processing of COVID-19 test samples in Detroit. The units are now in place in Detroit Medical Center hospitals and will allow physicians there to perform rapid COVID-19 of high risk patients in-house to avoid the delays of sending the tests out to commercial laboratories.

The testing units and reagents, produced by the Danaher molecular diagnostics company Cepheid, will allow the Detroit Medical Center to rapidly test and isolate patients that are positive for COVID-19. The devices provide results in less than an hour, utilizing immediate point-of-care testing so the hospital won’t have to send samples out to a separate lab for testing.

The four Cepheid units can process a combined 500 test samples per day and provide results within in less than an hour.

“Rapid identification to facilitate appropriate isolation of COVID-19 patients is mission-critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the hospital environment and the community,” said Charles Shanley, M.D., president and chief executive officer of WSUPG and vice dean of Clinical Affairs for the Wayne State University School of Medicine. 

The Cepheid Xpert Xpress test was approved for emergency use for COVID-19 testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 21. Wael Sakr, M.D., chair of WSU Pathology, was instrumental in bringing the new testing technology to Detroit.

“Going live with the in-house testing will vastly help alleviate the currently prolonged turnaround time for COVID-19 test results and will markedly increase the capacity for DMC and WSU/UPG and Karmanos Cancer Center providers to extend the test as appropriate to our patients and health workers,” said Wael Sakr, M.D., chair of WSU Pathology and chief of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the DMC and Karmanos.

Across the nation, state and commercial labs have been inundated with samples that need to be processed and analyzed to detect the virus. The turnaround for sampling can vary between several days to a week or more.

In addition to the testing units, WSUPG, in coordination with Wayne State University and ACCESS, has been providing COVID-19 testing of symptomatic health care professionals and first responders at sites in Detroit and Dearborn.

Volunteers from the organizations have tested more than 2,500 health care workers, police officers and firefighters experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to date. Drive-through testing continues for frontline health care workers and first responders at WSUPG headquarters at 400 Mack Ave. in Detroit. It will continue as long as there is a community need and available supplies to conduct the testing.

WSU Health Sciences committed startup funding for equipment to launch the drive-through testing program. WSUPG is leading and coordinating the screening effort, which includes health care providers from WSUPG and professionals from the WSU School of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Social Work and the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

“Our front-line health care workforce is one of our most precious assets in the fight against COVID-19,” Dr. Shanley said. “We cannot protect the public without protecting them.” Led by Phillip Levy, M.D., M.P.H., chief innovation officer of WSUPG and assistant vice president of Translational Science and Clinical Research Innovation for Wayne State University, and Teena Chopra, M.D., M.P.H., professor of Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases, for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and corporate medical director of infection prevention, hospital epidemiology and antibiotic stewardship for WSU and the Detroit Medical Center, the COVID-19 testing initiative brings together individuals from across the region, showing how community health challenges can be addressed through team-based collaborations.



Wayne State University

Phil Van Hulle, 586-206-8130


Wayne State University Physician Group

Colette Stimmel, 248-880-8881

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