Ochsner expanding coronavirus testing criteria and opening antibody testing

Local News
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BATON ROUGE, La. (NBC 33/FOX 44) Ochsner has expanded COVID-19 viral patient testing criteria to anyone who is symptomatic without limitation for age, with a focus on community hot spots. This will increase testing capabilities for children, patients at Ochsner Urgent Care locations and will expand testing to employers. Our goal is to test as many people as our supplies will allow and through routine testing, we will be able to test 12,000 individuals for COVID-19 each week.

Since the beginning of this crisis, COVID-19 testing remained one of the most critical tools for healthcare providers and care teams. Test rates in Louisiana are among the highest in the United States. At Ochsner Health, we believe in broader testing to learn more about the COVID-19 virus prevalence to help make the best decisions in the future for our employees, patients and community.

On March 21, we brought all testing capabilities in-house in our New Orleans and Shreveport labs by offering multiple types of tests that has helped Ochsner test more people in Louisiana with quick turnaround time for results.

Now Offering Antibody Testing and How it Works

At Ochsner, we provide our communities with Louisiana-based innovative healthcare solutions and resources during routine and emergency situations.

In addition to our COVID-19 viral tests, Ochsner has validated our equipment for COVID- 19 antibody testing to begin immediately. The antibody test can determine if a person’s immune system has created antibodies in response to COVID-19. Presence of the antibody indicates the individual has been infected with COVID-19,but this test does not prove immunity from future infection.

Because this virus is new and there are still many unknowns, there is not enough information at this time to determine what defines COVID-19 immunity and how long immunity may last.

Ochsner will first offer voluntary antibody testing to more than 27,000 employees and providers across our system. Beginning Wednesday, testing is based upon employees’ location, job and risk of exposure.

This COVID-19 antibody test is a simple blood draw with anticipated results within 24-36 hours of collection, depending on the test location. The goal is to test up to 20,000 individuals per week for COVID-19 antibodies as long as supplies last and to expand antibody testing to Ochsner patients and our communities, including those living in communal settings and local employers in early May.

While the antibody testing is a step in the right direction, people should continue to follow CDC guidelines, including social distancing, wearing a mask in public and good hand hygiene practices. Individuals with a negative antibody test should be aware that they have not been infected by the virus nor developed antibodies to COVID-19. If an individual were to test positive for antibodies, the same social practices should remain in place as we continue to learn more about this virus.

To learn about COVID-19, visit www.ochsner.org/coronavirus, to schedule an appointment, call 225-761-5200.

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