Keck Hospital of USC has been chosen to be part of a network of hospitals and laboratories receiving automated, high-volume COVID-19 patient testing, Keck Medicine of USC administrators announced March 30. The tests are expected to arrive early in the week and administrators plan to have the testing available by the end of the week, according to a memo released by Tom Jackiewicz, MPH, CEO of Keck Medicine, and Rod Hanners, COO of Keck Medicine and CEO of Keck Medical Center of USC.

Roche, a multinational pharmaceutical and diagnostic company, is shipping its cobas® SARS-CoV-2 Test to a nationwide network of hospitals and laboratories to enable the automated, high-volume testing for patients. Keck Hospital’s laboratory facilities will be set up to run the test under the guidelines of the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization and the test will service Keck Medicine facilities throughout Southern California, according to the memo.

The test uses nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab samples, from the back of the nose or throat, that are run through Roche’s automated system, which can process up to 96 results in three hours and a total of 384 results in eight hours.

“This high throughput processing will streamline our testing capabilities and better serve the patients turning to us for care,” Jackiewicz and Hanners wrote in the memo. “Further details about the implementation of this testing will be released shortly.”

Testing criteria will not be changed in order to ensure time to validate the system and assess the impact on testing kit inventory, administrators wrote. Once the system is online, administrators will plan for criteria that accommodates the additional testing capacity.

“We understand there is a great deal of fear and uncertainty around this virus,” Jackiewicz and Hanners wrote in the memo. “But with the addition of this technology, our organization can better tackle the crisis and provide further strength in combating its spread. We are forever grateful for your courage and dedication, and are honored to work together in dispensing exceptional medicine to those in need.”

— Melissa Masatani