Dartmouth-Hitchcock ramps up coronavirus testing

LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is ramping up testing for the coronavirus. Our Adam Sullivan explains what this means for the fight against COVID-19.

DHMC has been testing since Wednesday and has already administered hundreds to patients and staff. But the medical center is now increasing its testing capacity to as many as 1,000 tests a day.

The hospital is following protocols set forth by the FDA and CDC. As of right now, the facility is limited to testing only hospitalized patients, medical staff and first responders who have had direct contact with patients.

"For someone who shows up in the emergency department, it is critical that we know the lab results. So, right now, we want to be able to reserve the short supply of PPE and the short supply of test kits for the ones where we feel that we can really make a difference," said Dr. Edward Merrins, the chief clinical officer at DHMC.

The turnaround time to get the results is 24 hours or less. Hospital officials say the ability to test onsite will help with the backlog at the state lab.

DHMC is one of only a handful of academic medical centers around the country doing the testing. The medical center is also in the process of greatly expanding the number of staffers in place to work with increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.