East Alabama Medical Center offering antibody testing

Updated: May. 24, 2020 at 3:11 PM CDT
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery is seeing an increasingly high number of coronavirus cases in the area, leading to an increase in hospitalizations. Just a few weeks ago, Lee County was in a similar situation.

East Alabama Medical Center officials say that about six weeks ago the phone lines to their call centers were ringing off the hook, averaging about 700 calls a day and actually testing about 100 people per day with around 18 percent of those tests coming back positive. Since then, things have slowed down. They receive way less calls and only test around 30 people per day with about 15 percent of those tests coming back positive.

EAMC officials say now that they’ve already been through what they hope was their peak, they feel like they could more easily and quickly adapt to a rapid increase were it to come again.

Now, for the past month, in addition to testing the public for COVID-19, EAMC has also been testing its front line workers for antibodies.

“We did initially begin with the front line staff that were taking care of the COVID positive patients and then that has been expanded to other staff in the hospital,” said EAMC Lab Manager, Jarrett Loveless. “We have a test available by a manufacturer that looks for specific antibodies. It’s a simple blood test, one tube is all we require.”

It has also been expanded to the general public.

“We are having to batch test those, we do two to three batches per day to get everything in. So we usually have all those results back within about 24 hours,” Loveless said.

Officials say that if your antibody tests come back positive, there are some things that you can do to help people that are still battling the virus.

“There have been some studies showing that some of the more critically ill patients with COVID-19 do respond well to some treatment with what’s called convalescent plasma. So it’s a huge benefit if someone is willing to donate plasma who does have a positive antibody test,” Loveless said.

The antibody tests are only done by a physician’s order.

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