CEO of lab at center of AdventHealth COVID-19 test results left unknown speaks out

ORLANDO, Fla. — The CEO of the lab at the center of tens of thousands of COVID-19 test results being left unknown is speaking out.

AdventHealth said more than 25,000 people in Central Florida had not received their coronavirus test results right away.

The hospital said a third-party lab it was working with to process the tests, MicroGen DX, wasn’t fulfilling its obligation. The hospital has terminated its contract with the lab, which is based in Texas, to destroy all samples that hadn’t been processed yet because of a too-long turnaround time.

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AdventHealth officials also said some of the tests weren’t reliable.

Rick Martin, CEO of the MicroGen DX, said it’s true his company failed to meet its goal of 48 to 72 hours for results, but that AdventHealth’s claims that the test results are unreliable has cost the lab a lot of business.

“They’ve hurt the company significantly by making that accusation,” he said. “We were going to help nursing home patients in the state of Florida. They’ve canceled the contract.”

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Martin said there multiple reasons they weren’t able to process results as quickly as contracted, and the issue wasn’t in his control, but the federal government’s.

“The government basically has taken control of inventories of lab supplies,” Martin said. “We had ordered extraction machines and a disposable device that’s used on the extraction machines. We had ordered them months ago and all our orders were taken from us and redirected to other labs.”

Martin provided Eyewitness News with emails where he goes back and forth with aides to congressional lawmakers he thought could help.

In one, an aide promised to talk with Health and Human Services officials about the issue of supplies being redirected, and circle back with him.

“There’s no way I could have foreseen this and that impacted my capacity significantly, and I explained this to Advent,” Martin said.

Martin said he’s never heard directly from AdventHealth, but has gathered they weren’t happy that samples had started being left at room temperature for two to three days.

He said the initial turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours had grown to 10 to 12 days, which AdventHealth called “an unacceptable delay.”

Martin said his company tried to catch up, but samples arrived without electronic or hard-copy patient records. In addition, supplies were hard to come by.

The worldwide supply shortage, Martin says, was exacerbated by President Trump invoking the Defense Production Act, a federal law designed to help with national defense

Because the government is now prioritized for coronavirus-related contracts, Martin said he warned AdventHealth of the potential domino effect.

When asked about Martin’s claims, AdventHealth said they stood by their initial statement and have notified the appropriate regulatory agencies, which Martin says he’s contacted as well.

Channel 9′s Deanna Allbrittin spoke with several people who have been affected by the delay.

Most are worried about losing more pay, while others are worried their symptoms are signs of the virus.

Tany Rezak said she was tested May 5 and has not received her results

“If they’re trying to prioritize the most at-risk people, I can understand that, and I hope that they get their results quickly. However, they really do owe it to all of us who trusted them,” Rezak said.

The hospitals said those who are affected fall into the following categories:

1. Those whose samples were processed, and whose results provided by the lab are not deemed reliable.

  • Individuals who had unreliable positive results will require retesting.
  • Individuals with unreliable negative results who are symptomatic need to seek care and may require retesting.
  • Individuals with unreliable negative results who are asymptomatic but request to be retested will be offered testing pending availability.

2. Those whose samples are at the lab in question and are part of the backlog will not be tested; therefore no result will be available.

  • These patients may require retesting if they are symptomatic.
  • Officials have directed the lab to destroy these samples in accordance with the law.

The hospital released the following statement:

“We take our responsibility to safeguard everyone who entrusts us with their care very seriously. We’ve made significant investments to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in Central Florida and will continue to stand beside our neighbors in these unprecedented times,” said Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division. “Teams across our organization are working around-the-clock to remedy the situation. We will continue to lead, innovate and care for those impacted by COVID-19. We remain committed to our purpose of providing whole-person and whole-community health.”

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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