Joplin, Mo – “Antibody testing that is now done right here at the Freeman Health System hospital laboratory means patients and physicians will get results in hours instead of days,” says Karen Watts, Freeman Health System Administrative Director of Laboratory Services. “We have the ability to run COVID-19 total antibody testing in-house. The total antibody testing includes IgM which first appears in the early days of infection and in the acute phase of infection. Plus, it tests for IgG which indicates the body has begun to develop immunity to COVID.”
Freeman is the only hospital in this area to offer on-site antibody testing for COVID-19.
“Freeman Health System is using a test with the highest sensitivity for COVID-19,” says Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dennis Estep. “The antibody test we are using is 100% accurate for predictability of negatives according to the Food and Drug Administration. So, we can be 100% certain that if a person tests negative then they have not been infected with COVID-19. The positive predictive value is also at 100%. Therefore, the test we are offering showed that it was 100% accurate in predicting both positive and negative.”
“Initially the market was flooded with antibody tests that did not offer the accuracy we found acceptable at Freeman Health System,” Estep says. “We searched and found a test with a proven record for accuracy according to the FDA. Freeman has a supply of reagent and test kits that will enable us to perform up to a thousand antibody tests at this time. And running those tests using our own analyzers allows us to provide results in the same day.”
A doctor’s order is required for the antibody test which is run on analyzers in the main laboratory at the Freeman Hospital West campus. “This is a blood test not a nasal swab,” Watts says. “Specimens come to us from blood draw stations or internally at the hospital. Previously those specimens were sent to a reference lab which delayed results from two to three days. Now, same day results are available.”
The attached graph shows the progression of the body’s response to a viral or bacterial infection such as COVID. Nasal swab testing is designed to detect ribonucleic acid or RNA which is the genetic material of the virus.
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2019, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2019. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 70 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.