TCFD Leading the Way in COVID-19 Protection & Care for the Special Needs Community
Serology Testing from Partner Northwell Health for Entire Campus
The Center for Discovery, in conjunction with Northwell Health, New York State’s largest healthcare provider, is pioneering a new chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic for its community of complex individuals.
This week, all 300-plus TCFD residents will undergo COVID-19 serology antibody testing. Northwell Health, New York’s largest healthcare system, has already performed the test on more than 55,000 people, including police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, nursing home residents, and staff. “We believe it to be 90-95% effective in documenting whether or not you have antibodies,” said Northwell’s Executive Vice President of Strategy and Analytics Jeffrey Kraut.
After the Phase One assessment of the residents is complete, the test, which requires a small and straightforward blood draw, will be done on all consenting members of The Center’s medical and educational system. TCFD Associate Executive Director, Dr. Theresa Hamlin said the test results will be enormously helpful in understanding exposure to and prevalence of the virus, “The medical field really is still only in the beginning stages of understanding so many aspects of COVID-19, in particular how some people are exposed but never develop symptoms.” “Even though our extraordinary measures to keep our residents and staff safe and well are working, it is critical for us to know how many of us actually came in contact with the virus and developed immunity,” she added. Dr. Charles Schleien, the Senior Vice President and Chair of Pediatric Services at Northwell Health, including the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center, agreed, “I think doing broad antibody testing on your entire population is so important, so we know what the prevalence of infection was. Testing will have ramifications for the vaccine eventually – who needs it, who doesn’t need it, how long immunity is – that sort of thing.”
The FDA-approved serology antibody testing is different than the nasal swab, commonly used to measure active disease. It measures levels of Immunoglobulin G or “IgG” antibody levels. “IgG is the antibody that your body makes to remember this virus,” explained TCFD Medical Director Dr. Philip Wilken, “hopefully, this antibody will be detectable in humans, ideally forever, after an exposure.” Your body, however, does not develop IgGs overnight. Kraut added, “It usually takes 7-10 days after you’ve gone through the disease that the antibodies are fully formed and are detectable”.
The serology testing at The Center for Discovery will be a massive undertaking coordinated by Dr. Wilken, the TCFD nursing staff of 160, and Northwell team members. It is the hope that all 300 residents and 1,700 TCFD staff members get tested. The results from the test are back in approximately three days. “It is exciting to be part of this testing because it will offer such important information,” said Wilken, “in our special needs population at the Center, knowing this antibody testing information can help us better understand how the virus moves amongst the population, and hopefully help in the future to better protect our residents.” Susan Sayers, the TCFD Chief of Nursing, said, “Here at The Center, we are always working to improve the lives of our community – residents, students, and staff. This testing will help us better plan for any potential second wave of COVID-19, another pandemic, or other health crisis. We are truly grateful that Northwell Health has given us this opportunity to deepen our understanding of this virus in our complex individuals.”