Letter To The Editor
Submitted by Jeff Fischer, Bourbon County Commissioner
There has been some concern over this proposal and how it may compromise our community members’ rights.
Let me first say, first and foremost, that is absolutely not the intent.
We are living in unprecedented times. New ideas and technology should be brought to the table and discussed unless we are satisfied with the status quo. We share an obligation to protect our citizens to the best of our ability.
I pray that this pandemic is on the way out. However, should this virus have a second wave, having the tools to isolate the infected and liberating the healthy will be a big step in avoiding the anticipated consequences.
I know many, if not all, of our large employers, are taking temperatures and monitoring symptoms of their employees prior to every shift. Some of our larger businesses are actively looking for a tool to use to help monitor the symptoms as a strategy to keep their employees safe and their operations ongoing.
Nationwide, everyone is looking for increased access to testing. This proposal was presented as an option to help meet community needs, looking for ways to keep our workforce and elderly safe, and prepare for future risk.
I also know that every county health department is tracking and tracing confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Although the proposal used a word like “surveillance,” this does not mean a mass population tracking system. The objective of this proposal has never been the surveillance and tracking of individuals, but the disease. We have learned that early detection, confirmation and appropriate actions are key factors in limiting the spread of the virus that causes this disease.
We need to move past keeping healthy people at home and move toward quarantining those who show a confirmed positive of COVID-19. This specific proposal targeted increasing our regional testing capacity and building a data infrastructure for the rapid sharing of the results.
MRIGlobal, formerly known as Midwest Research Institute based in Kansas City has presented a proposal dated April 20th to Bourbon County. This proposal had three main components, two of these components pertained to diagnostic testing for COVID-19 and the third component pertained to a symptom monitoring application. Although this proposal is specific to Bourbon County, it is being used as a template to be in other remote areas to support expanding diagnostic testing capacity with rapid reporting of the results.
- There are two types of tests that can be purchased at a fixed price. These include the molecular (RT-PCR) and serology (RDT and ELISA) test. Test specimens delivered to their lab at 425 Volker Blvd in Kansas City by noon would have results by 5:00 pm the same day, 5 days a week. Bourbon County’s healthcare community would have access for 100 tests each day with same-day results.
- Should there become a need for additional capacity or a quicker turnaround time, MRIGlobal would train up to four technicians based in Ft. Scott on the Cepheid Xpert Xpress platform that processes a prepared specimen in 45 minutes. Having regional rapid diagnostic testing capacity through our healthcare partners provides safety to healthcare professionals and helps mitigate the risk of clusters like those reported in factories, nursing homes and correctional facilities.
- MRIGlobal’s partner, HToH, will provide an app based mobile phone software solution that can efficiently and remotely identify and manage populations impacted by COVID-19. The system offers the ability to trace contacts and support communications between clinicians and patients, providing an indicator of the spread and control of COVID-19. The system also recommends public health actions to individuals in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and physician guidance, including return to work/duty decision tools based on symptomatic diagnosis, and RT-PCR and/or serology based diagnostic testing.
For example, we could select the service described in item one and only pay for the number of tests that are performed. This would give our community 500 diagnostic tests each week with same day results. CHC SEK would likely collect the specimens and deliver them by noon in Kansas City. CHC SEK would bill for these tests as they currently do now. We may learn that we have no need for items two and three, but they are priced to give our community scalable capacity.