Members of the “KGH Panther Team” (left to right): Angella Knight, Maxwell McLaughlin, Stephanie Chabot, Kendra Soukeroff, Dr. Amanda Wilmer, Dr. Melissa Caza. (Interior Health)

Members of the “KGH Panther Team” (left to right): Angella Knight, Maxwell McLaughlin, Stephanie Chabot, Kendra Soukeroff, Dr. Amanda Wilmer, Dr. Melissa Caza. (Interior Health)

New ‘Panther’ machines fast-track COVID-19 testing in Interior Health

The new tech will help IH process more than 1,600 COVID-19 tests a day, up from 900

New technology at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) and Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) in Kamloops is helping Interior Health process COVID-19 tests much faster.

The new machine, the Panther Fusion System, is a combination of instruments and laboratory tools that increase the capacity of facilities to perform testing on COVID-19 samples.

With the new method available, Interior Health (IH) can now process over 1,600 samples a day, up from the previous 900 samples a day it was able to process.

IH said renovations had to take place at both KGH and RIH to make room for the Panther units.

“The KGH lab increased its size by 1,2000 square feet. A project that normally may have taken nine months was completed in nine weeks to allow for the Panther,” IH said in a statement.

RIH already had a first-generation Panther machine in place, so renovations had to be done in a tight space to accommodate a new machine as well as a biological safety cabinet — a ventilated workspace in which health-care workers can safely handle potentially dangerous materials. IH said the recent renovation came just after another renovation in the micro department last year.

“There was a big effort that went into increasing our capacity to test COVID-19 samples and making sure our communities stay safe,” Okanagan director of lab operations Hope Byrne said.

“It’s a credit to the dedication of the teams involved to provide this enhanced testing to patients in Interior Health.”

IH said it is now looking for medical lab technologists to help operate the new Panther machines.

READ: RCMP pay another visit to Kelowna church already fined for defying public health orders


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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