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Rapid testing platform for COVID-19 fully funded through community support


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According to Providence St. Mary Laboratory Director, David Jansen, the Cepheid GeneXpert testing platform, when fully functional, will produce test results in approximately 45-minutes, drastically reducing the days it takes now to ship and process tests. 

WALLA WALLA-In less than a week, private citizens, cities, agencies and fire departments in the Walla Walla area stepped up to donate over $174,000 through the Providence St. Mary Foundation to make rapid testing for COVID-19 available in this community.

As hospitals across the nation grapple with the economic pressures from the pandemic, it is becoming increasingly difficult to generate the operating revenue needed to invest in technologies and equipment.  The hospital's foundation is playing a big role in strengthening Providence St. Mary's local response by funding direct patient and caregiver support, key equipment and other needs.

Funding for the rapid testing platform, Cepheid GeneXpert, came from a blend of private philanthropic gifts and support from local governments. The equipment, when fully functional, will produce test results in approximately 45-minutes, drastically reducing the days it takes now to ship and process tests.

Dr. Richard Simon and Deberah Simon launched fundraising efforts with a $50,000 generous leadership pledge.  Susan Monahan and Mark Brucks of Walla Walla were among the first to join the Simons with a $50,000 leadership gift. Susan and Mark have lived in Walla Walla since 2008 and are involved with many organizations in town as volunteers and supporters. They care deeply for Walla Walla and viewed this as a way to make a difference in improving the quality of life and healthcare for the community.

 Shortly after, local cities, agencies and fire departments also pledged donations. They include the Port of Walla Walla, $30,000; City of Walla Walla $20,000; City of College Place, $5,000; Fire District 4, $2,500; Fire District 4 Auxiliary, $1,000; and the Walla Walla County community contributions fund, $20,000.

 They joined individual donors Bruce and Kay Barga, Dr. Chris and Chandra Hall, Dr. Glyn and Rachel Marsh, Drs. Kay and Richard Henderson, Dr. James and Mary Harri, Solemn Cellars, Walla Walla Valley Honda and an anonymous donor to fully fund the Cepheid unit.

 A shortage of supplies continues to be the limiting factor. As a result, the rapid test will initially be applied to hospitalized patients. For a time, Providence St. Mary and the outpatient clinics will use a combination of Cepheid and other out-of-area options to process tests. The long-term goal once supplies are available is to make rapid testing available to anyone who requires it.

 "This is not the first time our community has stepped up to support our local hospital and it won't be the last", says Lindsey Oldridge, Chief Philanthropy Officer. "We are amazed at the outpouring of support and how quickly people came forward asking to help. The platform was fully funded in a matter of days through a whirlwind of generosity. We look forward to putting those funds immediately to work by bringing rapid testing to our Valley."

 Providence St. Mary Foundation is continuing to identify emerging priorities to strengthen non-profit healthcare during the pandemic and beyond.


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