EmbryHealth asks thousands of people to retake COVID-19 test after lab became overwhelmed

Coronavirus test
Posted at 4:23 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 21:25:19-05

PHOENIX — Thousands of people who took COVID-19 tests were told to be retested after a lab was unable to keep up with demand.

EmbryHealth sent a text message to about ten thousand people who received tests telling them that if results were still not available for tests before December 13, they would need to be retested.

"It is important that we take accountability for the specimens and the lives of our patients," said Raymond Embry, CEO of EmbryHealth and Test Now.

The text reads:

"TESTING UPDATE - If you have already received results please disregard. This message is to inform you that if you have an outstanding Covid-19 test prior to 12/13, you will need to be retested. Your test was sent to a local lab that has experienced extreme unanticipated delays. To ensure you receive results we now recommend being retested. All locations will accommodate patients needing a new test without an appointment. Please inform staff on-site that you did not receive your results and need to be retested. The former lab has been replaced and is no longer used. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for trusting us with your health."

Embry said that due to an increase in COVID-19 testing (EmbryHealth conducting about 18,000 every day), the health care provider partnered with a lab in Mesa that was unable to meet the demands from EmbryHealth. On Wednesday, EmbryHealth had sent 9,000 tests to this unnamed lab, and only two thousand had been returned as of Thursday.

"This lab was not able to maintain their current turnaround time and we felt that it was in the best interest of the safety of our patients to advise them to come out and get retested," said Embry. "We never want a situation to exist as it did back in July where we were collecting unlimited numbers of specimens and the laboratories were not able to keep up."

EmbryHealth has ended its partnership with this lab, but the tests are still being processed, and patients will eventually receive results.

Embry has partnered with LabCorp for a long time to perform their lab testing, but recently LabCorp set a limit to the amount of daily tests taken from EmbryHealth at 6,000 tests. To help with the surge in testing, EmbryHealth has partnered with four other labs, including Sonora Quest and a lab in Texas, to increase their daily COVID-19 testing capacity to around 20,000 tests.