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HomeNewsRNSH Pathology team - processing tests around the clock

RNSH Pathology team - processing tests around the clock

The NSW Health Pathology team at Royal North Shore Hospital have been working around the clock to deliver PCR test results to the thousands of people who lined up for a test over Christmas and New Year due to the Omicron COVID-19 wave. 

The microbiology laboratory processed close to 82,500 COVID-19 PCR samples from 1 December 2021 until 20 January 2022. This was 25 per cent more samples than a comparable period during the height of the Delta outbreak. 

The recent outbreak caps off the tumultuous couple of years the RNSH pathology team has gone through due to COVID-19. Senior Hospital Scientist and Team Leader of Molecular Biology Alex Carrera, said the strain put on the team has led to many staff members missing out on leave to fulfil the PCR testing demands.

The team would often show up to work and see the ever-growing long line of people waiting to get tested and feel the pressure to process the tests as quickly as possible.
Senior Hospital Scientist and Team Leader of Molecular Biology Alex Carrera

“It’s the second year in a row the team couldn’t go on leave and celebrate the festive season

“There was enormous pressure on everyone to get through the tests.”

Despite this, Alex and his team maintained an uplifting spirit about the team’s approach to testing.

“The team never forget that although the sample is issued a lab number to track it through the system, they always know there’s a name behind it who requires a result”, he said.

Dr Bernie Hudson, Director of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases said that on top of processing thousands of tests, the pathology team also worked hard to prioritise inpatients, outpatients and staff to ensure the health system remained stable. 

This made it a challenging task to promptly provide results to the general population with many people needing a negative PCR test result to enter certain states. Only so many slots were available to be processed in one go, which caused unavoidable delays.

“Unfortunately there were problems because people were needing a PCR test to get into states like Queensland, which ultimately put a lot of strain on the system, especially in our LHD,” he said.

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