AUGUSTA, Ga. – Augusta University will be testing new 3D-printed nasal swabs to help ramp up testing for the novel coronavirus statewide.
The testing will be done at Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center in a partnership with the Georgia National Guard. As of Friday, 74 patients had tested positive for the virus at the nursing home, with four deaths reported.
If proven effective, the swabs can be used by Georgia health officials as testing ramps up throughout the state, according to AU.
“Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center has really tried to do the right thing, securing testing for their own patients and providing a way for other facilities to do the same,” AU Health CEO Katrina Keefer said in a release. “This could provide a scalable way to test a lot more people, a lot faster.”
As testing continues to expand, concerns about a shortage of nasal swabs is increasing, as two of the top makers of the product struggle to keep up with demand.
“We are proud of our Georgia National Guard medical professionals for stepping up to fight this invisible enemy and grateful to partner with Augusta University Health System to help test their new 3D-printed swabs,” Brig. Gen. Randall V. Simmons Jr. said in the release. “These swabs are critically short in the supply chain, and thanks to the innovative efforts of Augusta University, we should be able to expand testing efforts statewide.”
The prototype was engineered by faculty at Augusta University and includes a flexible stick with a bristled end. Windermere has partnered with AU Health to provide screening, testing and telehealth service to the facility’s residents.
“This has really been a partnership. We had conversations from the beginning about testing all of the patients. That decision presented many challenges, but it was the right thing to do to protect the patients and staff,” Matt Tolbert, the district vice president of operations for Sava Senior Care Consulting LLC, said in the release. “Very few of Georgia’s nursing homes have taken such aggressive action, primarily because testing simply isn’t available on that scale. We’re now working with AU Health to be the center of a much larger effort that could support the state of Georgia and other nursing homes.”