AdventHealth today acknowledged that the lab it used for several weeks at drive-up locations provided thousands of unreliable Covid-19 tests and long delays. The problems affected some 25,000 people in Central Florida, including in Palm Coast and Flagler County, many of whom will never get those test results, and many of whom will have to be retested.
The fiasco casts doubt on the reliability and accuracy of supposedly improving testing numbers in Flagler and other counties in the last few weeks.
“We recently learned that MicroGenDX, one of several nationally certified third-party laboratories we contracted with to process COVID-19 tests, is unable to fulfill its obligation,” David Ottati, AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division-North Region president and CEO and Neil Finkler, a senior vice president, told physicians in a May 15 letter FlaglerLive obtained this morning. AdventHealth has terminated its contract with MicroGenDX. “It is important to note that this issue is an isolated issue and is not reflective of our in-house testing for symptomatic patients or any of our other external testing vendors. MicroGenDX testing was primarily used for our community based drive-through testing, patients without symptoms and some team members and physicians.”
MicroGenDX had promised fast and reliable testing, with turn-arounds of between 24 and 48 hours. Public health officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of fast, accessible, reliable and high-volume testing as key in the reopening of society and effective surveillance ahead of additional, serious outbreaks. But the hope for widespread testing has yet to match the reality on the ground, with testing problems with MicroGenDX’s issues emblematic of a series of setbacks or unmet expectations.
The demand for testing has yet to meet the supply, and when it’s appeared to meet it, the reliability of testing has been in question, undermining the trust in public health agencies’ and government’s efforts to manage the crisis. Testing methods that would normally take a year or more to gain approval have received emergency approval within weeks. Problems have followed. A few weeks ago, even Flagler County’s Emergency Operations Center was among local government agencies forced to return flawed testing kits that the CDC had approved prematurely. (The kits were never used locally.)
MicroGenDX, or MicroGen Diagnostics, is an Orland-based diagnostic lab that received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to perform spit-based Covid-19 testing. (Inexplicably, AdventHealth did not release the name of the lab in its statement to local media. When asked the name of the lab in question, an AdventHealth spokesperson wrote: “I don’t have any additional details to share other than what was provided in the statement.”) A MicroGenDX spokesperson did not respond to an email requesting comment before this article initially published.
The drive-through testing included the site at the Flagler-Palm Coast campus of Daytona State College, where AdventHealth handled testing for the past three weeks, and at the Speedway in Daytona Beach, at Mall at Millenia in Orlando, Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg, Posner Park in Davenport and Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus emergency, Flagler County has shown the lowest number of positive Covid-19 tests and the highest number of total tests in the past two weeks as local officials touted the numbers as proof that local safety measures were effective, and that the coronavirus emergency was on the wane locally. That confidence now appears to have been at least partially, if not entirely, misplaced: the Flagler health department’s testing of congregate care facilities continues to show no positive cases, with 300 such tests conducted in the past week.
But hundreds of local residents were tested through the “spit-test” method at the Palm Coast campus of Daytona State College over the last few weeks, as they were at ADventHealth’s other drive-up locations.
“This issue impacts more than 25,000 people throughout Central Florida,” AdventHealth said in a statement sent to media this morning. “This situation has created unacceptable delays, and we do not have confidence in the reliability of the tests. We are working diligently to notify and appropriately accommodate those who are impacted. They will be receiving a letter from us and may also receive a phone call.”
FlaglerLive first reported AdventHealth’s issue with the lab on Friday, though a call to Wally de Aquino, the chief operating officer at AdventHealth Palm Coast, was not returned. An AdventHealth spokesperson said a statement would follow. De Aquino had acknowledged problems with the testing lab in a conversation with Flagler Health Department Chief Bob Snyder Friday. Snyder said the tests would be re-done for many, though he said the situation raises curious questions: for those who have been tested two to three weeks ago out of fear that they had the virus, and who have self-isolated for at least 14 days, and who have not shown symptoms since, would a test be necessary? Snyder said such questions are among those that will be asked in coming days.
This morning, Snyder contacted the state health department, which was aware of the problem in Central Florida, to raise further questions about the reliability of the department’s dashboard numbers. It isn’t yet clear to what extent those numbers have been affected by the problems in Central Florida. “They mentioned the 25,000 I guess Central Florida wide, but I don’t know the impact locally,” Snyder said.
The health department considers the spit-test method the least reliable of three methods being used, the other two being through swabs of the throat or nasal swabs. The health department uses only the latter two. MicroGenDX saw it differently.
“Increasing evidence supports the use of sputum and saliva for rapid and accurate detection of SARS-CoV-2,” a MicroGenDX press release stated in late April. “Since late March 2020, MicroGenDX has collected and tested the largest sampling of saliva and sputum (more than 14,000 tests) and ongoing analysis continues to find these samples to be high-quality and more sensitive than nasal samples. A recent study out of Yale also found saliva to be more sensitive for SARS-CoV-2 detection in patients than nasopharyngeal swabs.”
The study MicroGenDX referred to had not been peer-reviewed and specified that it “should not be used to guide clinical practice.”
AdventHealth in its statement said “we share in the disappointment and frustration this situation has created. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and uncertainty it has caused.” AdventHealth uses many other labs across multiple states to provide Covid-19 tests.
AdventHealth said in its statement to media that individuals impacted fall into two categories:
“Those whose samples were processed, and whose results provided by the lab are not deemed reliable,” AdventHealth’s statement said. “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.”
Further, those whose samples are at MicroGenDX and are part of the backlog will not be tested, and no result will be forthcoming. “These patients may require retesting if they are symptomatic,” the statement said. “We have directed the lab to destroy these samples in accordance with the law. If someone is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms they should seek care immediately.”
“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.”
The question of who will be processing Flagler County’s tests through the department of health is still more unsettled than not.
On Monday, the testing location at Daytona State College’s Palm Coast campus will revert to county health department and emergency management staff and volunteers, with more than 80 tests scheduled for Monday. Those tests will be going to Palm Coast-based Diagnostic Solutions–but only on Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the tests will be processed by Quest, Snyder said, the lab that contracts with the department of health, and which is expected to produce results within four days.
Snyder said he asked Diagnostic Solutions’ CEO to contract with the department of health. “But he said we only can handle so much more capacity because of their pre-surgical testing assignments with AdventHealth,” Snyder said. “Given his current staffing level he would not have the ability to do the DOH county testing for our community site, so he’s not ready to go there yet. So DOH gave us the thumbs up to use Quest for right now, and DOH is looking for a new lab to support a large number of counties.”
Welcome to the downfall of America.
Hooe you all enjoyed wating your time and being nithing more than political pawns. Fake testing now to help keep the numbers down and continue to keep the people getting sick. I hope everyone can see what is coming and if you dont lock your selves and your children away now soon ot will be too late. Children are dying from unknown illnesses related to covid 19 and they arw using you all as a lab test to see what happens. But dont worry thw uber rich will be protected but mot your children.
David S. says
What a Joke……..
Advent health is mandatory testing all employees, and it has your dna in bank. Hence with 50,000 employees and over 50 hospitals with 1 lab might not be able to handle them.
Honest Truth says
So, now the amount of those figures of positive residents in Flagler County and Palm Coast are false which means the positive rates could be higher.
How can this have happened, and why? Why can’t our nation get accurate testing which is all our citizens have been begging the White House to provide.
Trump is hiding the real truth to the American people because he feels it will hurt his re-election so he wants results to lie like he lies every time he opens his mouth.
Why can’t our government give the American people reliable testing? Why can’t our government and that includes the Governor of Florida be honest with the people that voted for them or didn’t vote for them?
Governor DeSantis you need to address this failure if you care about its citizens in the State of Florida that elected you or are you going to swept it under the carpet like Donald Trump does each and every day?
Karen Rockafellor says
I am as upset as everyone that our testing is flawed. But how in gods name could you blame our President? Blame Advent for not vetting a reliable source for handling this problem. They were and are unprepared for a virus outbreak. Shame on them!!!!
Retired RN says
Palm Beach AG Dave Aronberg recently stated that Governor DeSantis is being deceptive to Floridians. 1. He is only reporting on tests results that are processed in Fl. state labs which constitutes only 10% of the tests, not private labs which constitutes on the other 90% of the tests that are done. And now we have your article re inaccurate tests. 2. DeSantis won’t allow the Medical Examiners Reports to be released on the amount of Deaths from Covid 19 which apparently is much higher than what is actually being reported 3. DeSantis is separating residents from nonresidents, yet we have so many nonresidents come to Florida and stay here for MONTHS at a time. No other state separates this way in order to make the state look like there is less disease. Until Florida starts to produce ACCURATE and THOROUGH numbers, I will be isolating myself. I will wait until there is a medication that can treat this disease or until there is a vaccine. I do not wish to commit suicide at this time.
I hope they don’t get paid for the tests that they screwed up. They screwed up and imo that means that the people that will not get their results therefore they shouldn’t get paid.
Death trap says
My wife works at Advent Health. She often tells me, ” if I ever need to go-to to the hospital for any emergency care please take me anywhere…
Anywhere EXCEPT Advent Health”!
I totally agree. My husband was in the hospital there for 7 days. 4 days in intensive care. The worst experience of our life! Blood pressure 91/33…not one nurse came in. Intensive care..saw nurse three times in a day…one of those was to bring lunch…which they set down in front of him and left….IV in arm..catheter in..blood pressure cuff on…and weak as he could be. 11 pages of notes …it was horrific!
What a spit in the eye!
Personally I like t-rumps solution better – Inject bleach or put a light in your lungs !!!!
Flagler hospital at its best!
I don’t trust that place and never will. Be safe everyone, and please wear a mask.
Feeling angry about how we have all been cheated & duped in 2020.
Cornball County says
Seriously ? Well guess what ? Don’t hold your breath for everyone that took the test before coming back to take it again.
THAT WON’T BE HAPPENING !!!!
Sad. this is bad.
Thanks. The online chat with Advent Health basically lied to us every time I talked to them. All they ever said was, be patient, your test results are in process. Lies. I’ve been unable to work for 4 weeks waiting for results. Never to be trusted again.
Well, ain’t that just dandy! I’ll continue to follow the advice of Dr. Fauci and the other medical experts, thank you very much.
Willy Boy says
“The best scientific data available” – none of it’s worth diddley-sqaut. Our “experts” might as well be reading tea leaves.
Science depends on data for models. As data changes so do models. Hence the deaths predicted have gone up in the US because of lockdowns being removed. It really isn’t that hard to understand.
A Concerned Observer says
How long will it be for the comments to roll in loudly blaming President Trump or Our Governor DeSantis for this horrendous debacle? Is there a culpable party here? Yes; the MicroGenDX lab. Full stop, end of story. There are countless companies and individuals out there clamoring to get on this particular bandwagon to make a buck. Some are criminal and should be prosecuted while some are simply inept and exaggerate their capabilities to handle the job at hand. With the enormity of this pandemic, I guess it should be expected that many will jump at any possible way to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. I am sure that the same voices that are now demanding an immediate vaccine or magic cure for this virus will also be the first to blame the CDC for inadequate testing should there be some side effects which may later be blamed on whatever cure or vaccine eventually does come out.
Read again: “MicroGenDX received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration”.
Whose administration nominated the head of the FDA? Right! the administration that never takes responsibility for anything.
When the head of government pushes to fast-track drugs, tests and vaccines, corners are cut and inadequate testing is done and the tax payers suffer.
Small company that bit off more than they could chew.
Sounds like greed to me.
William Moya says
Capitalistic medicine, create Potemkin villages and call them Mayberry.
Who is responsible for the testing? Advent? County? State?
Who is paying for all these tests?
Someone organized/backed the testing….who?
Steve Vanne says
Pissed in PC says
Trump said anyone that wanted a test could get one, you just can’t get the results cause those positive numbers will hurt my reelection. DeSantis is Trump’s puppet and orders state medical examiner’s to not publish Covid 19 deaths cause that will make his numbers look bad to reopen the state. The hospital has billed insurance, Medicaid and Medicare for tests that have to be done a second time. Also the antibody test has a disclaimer that it doesn’t know how long antibodies last in a body. (I know cause I had the test after being sick for 6 weeks but didn’t test till 6 weeks later).
Do you people in this county not see a trend here? Republicans are covering this up since they still believe it’s a democratic hoax and will go away when the weather warms up. Hell we’ve been warm since February and that hasn’t happened yet. Now we have citizens in this county that think the virus isn’t here since nobody wants to wear masks to shop. I’m an immunity compromised person so I’ll continue staying home since you can’t consider others and wear a mask. Mask it or casket, your decision. Don’t like wearing a mask? You’re sure not going to like a ventilator.
Pissed in PC says
You forgot that trump said the tests were “beautiful”.
Pissed in PC says
and the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right? This was not as perfect as that, but pretty good,”
I am allergic to peanuts. They will kill me. Simply being around someone eating them triggers a reaction. I move that all peanut products be banned……..
Vancouver British Columbia. . . now this is what a “Well Managed” pandemic response looks like. . . what we lack is “LEADERSHIP”! Take a good read:
John R Brady says
Not because I am a candidate in this election but because I care for everyone’s right to vote, I strongly urge you to vote by mail, All you need do is call the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections 386-313-4170 and ask about vote by mail. Ballots are mailed to you, you complete and send back and you have voted. The next big vote is August 18 and who knows what our status will be by then. So vote by mail means no standing in line and your vote counts
Our lives and safety here in Palm Coast and Flagler County depend on this beautiful outfit.
Saaaaaaaaaaaaaad as can be.
Derrick Redder says
Ok so which tv lawyer will be the first to sue?
This needs to make national news.