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Atlantic Health System introduces rapid test for COVID-19 variants

April 2, 2021

MORRISTOWN, NJ – APRIL 2, 2021 – In a breakthrough that will give better insight into how and where COVID-19 variants are spreading within New Jersey, Atlantic Health System is among the first hospitals in the region to be able to rapidly screen for key viral variants.

The organization will begin surveillance testing for COVID-19 variants for population health using internally developed PCR-based tests, as well as partnering with Seegene, Inc., using their recently developed research-use variant detection multiplex tests to rapidly screen for multiple variants – specifically the UK, Brazilian and South African variants. Atlantic Health plans to continue developing tests to identify additional strains such as the California and New York variants.

This test, performed via a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay, which searches for the genetic material of viruses such as COVID-19, allows Atlantic Health to take a patient’s sample and not only determine whether they are positive for the virus, but whether they have one of these variants, all within a matter of hours.

“Since the start of the pandemic, rapid testing has remained one of the most important and elusive tools we have,” said Brian Gragnolati, president and CEO of Atlantic Health System. “Similar to the challenges we faced with testing for the original strain last spring, the inability to quickly identify variants makes it difficult to track their spread. Using this new genetic test, Atlantic Health is leading the way in protecting our community.”

Testing will be done in-house at Atlantic Consolidated Laboratory, which earlier this year began performing all COVID-19 testing in-house, dramatically reducing the time needed to provide results to patients. Atlantic Health laboratories run between 1,500 and 2,000 COVID tests per day.

“We have dramatically enhanced our capabilities with the most advanced and reliable testing for COVID-19, which has helped us streamline and facilitate care,” said Lisa McFarlane, PhD, MLS, director of laboratory services for Atlantic Health System. “Being able to detect variants is the next step in caring for our patients, while keeping our caregivers and facilities safe.”

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of almost 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers more than 400 sites of care, including seven hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ, Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Madison, NJ.

Atlantic Medical Group, comprised of 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, represents one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey and joins Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners as part of Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network of more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs through 16 urgent care centers, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere’s Virtual Visits. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.