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Portage Health only western U.P. hospital with molecular diagnostics

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     Molecular Lab 2010 
  Portage Health Medical Technologist April Koskiniemi runs a sample through the GeneXpert to test for H1N1 bacteria. 
 Note: This was originally posted on: 03/03/2010 

HANCOCK — Portage Health's new GeneXpert machine is up and running, making Portage Health the only hospital in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan to offer molecular diagnostics.

The GeneXpert tests for the presence of bacteria, including that of infectious life-threatening diseases such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ("MRSA"), and H1N1, enabling doctors to make quicker and more informed treatment decisions.

Before molecular testing, samples were used to grow lab cultures, which could take several days to produce results. In the case where a patient's infection must be treated immediately to reduce risk to himself and other patients, timing is critical, said Portage Health lab director Richard Kangas.

"We'd have to wait 24 hours for a sample to grow and it would probably be another 24 hours to identify the bacteria, and that's if it's in the right conditions and environment," Kangas said. "Molecular testing is a completely different way to identify bacteria."

The GeneXpert takes a DNA sample and sets off a chain reaction to quickly produce millions of copies of it. As the quantity increases, color indicators identify the bacteria present in the sample. Within an hour, lab results can be provided to the physician so an accurate diagnosis and course of treatment can be immediately implemented.

"This machine eliminates the step of prescribing antibiotics that might not work, or quarantining a patient when it isn't necessary, which is costly in terms of health and finances," said Portage Health Pathologist Dr. Petio Kotov. "Any way you look at it, it's more beneficial to the patient."

Funded through a $58,650 grant by the Portage Health Foundation, the GeneXpert was installed in January. About 15 percent of hospitals nationwide use the GeneXpert.

For more information on Portage Health laboratory services, click here.

Note: This was originally posted on: 03/03/2010 

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