Gundersen Health System develops test that detects COVID-19

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Gundersen Health System now has a test to detect the coronavirus, with results within 24 hours.

The healthcare provider announced on Saturday that staff have been working around the clock to develop this test.

Within two weeks it was able to successfully do so.

It’s able to process tests in-house, reducing wait time for test results.

“Having the testing available in-house allows us to provide rapid turnaround test results, which is especially important when the patient is seriously ill or when rapid testing of close contacts are warranted,” said Steven M. Callister, PhD, Microbiology Research Laboratory.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse faculty and staff provided supplies needed to run nearly 3,000 of coronavirus tests.

The molecular biology research program at the university has a large number of supplies used to extract RNA from various samples, which carries the genetic information of the coronavirus, and is a step in the process of determining if a person is infected with COVID-19.

“We know and work with the researchers at Gundersen and we had the supplies they needed,” said Scott Cooper, UWL Director of Undergraduate Research. “We can’t do any research for the next few months and anything we can do to help get more COVID-19 tests done in the community the better.”

Tests will only be used for the illest and vulnerable people.

Local health officials say this will help them monitor the spread in our community.

“One thing that testing locally allows us to do is to figure out how serious the problem is in this general area,” Callister said.

As of Saturday, Callister says between Mayo Clinic Health System and Gundersen there’s been between 500 to 600 tests done so far.

The Gundersen Medical Foundation’s Microbiology Research Laboratory developed the test based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements under the U.S. Federal Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization protocol.