Walla Walla will soon be able to conduct rapid testing for coronavirus thanks to community

Providence St. Mary's

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — The Walla Walla community will soon have access to rapid testing for COVID-19.

When Providence St. Mary Foundation board decided to launch a fundraising campaign for the Cepheid GeneXpert platform, local citizens along with cities, public agencies and fire departments pledged thousands of dollars in donations. Within a week, they had raised the over $174,000 needed.

“It was fast and furious and what I refer to as a whirlwind of generosity,” said Lindsey Oldridge, chief philanthropy officer of the Providence St. Mary Foundation. “I have to say I’m really not surprised. Walla Walla is an incredibly generous town, and the people that live here care for each other, and they knew that this was the time now more than ever to step up and give their support.”

Over 2,000 people have been tested at Providence St. Mary Medical Center since the coronavirus outbreak started. Normally, test results can take days to come in, because tests have to be sent outside of Walla Walla to be processed. The new platform will allow for results in as little as 45 minutes.

Because availability of testing supplies does continue to be a limiting factor, initially the rapid testing will be used for patients that are already hospitalized.

“As testing supplies become more available we will begin rolling it out to additional tiers,” said Oldridge. “Ultimately, the long-term goal is to be able to have a test available locally, processed locally and available for anyone who really requires that test.”

Oldridge says the new equipment is expected to arrive in 3-4 weeks and then it takes about a week to validate before it can be put to use.