SSM Health Dean Medical Group – Janesville East and Mercyhealth have started to offer COVID-19 antibody testing to patients. Antibody testing, also known as serological testing, uses an individual’s blood to determine if that person was previously infected with a specific infection, like COVID-19.
Antibody tests are administered at Mercyhealth, via lab locations in Wisconsin and Illinois. Samples are sent to LabCorp for processing and are generally available within 24-48 hours. Tests administered at Dean Medical Group – Janesville East are run through the SSM Health regional lab at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. Results are generally available in 24 hours.
“We know that some individuals with COVID-19 infection have very mild symptoms or in some cases, no symptoms at all,” says Mark Thompson, MD, SSM Health regional president of Medical Groups. “This test can help us determine if a person was infected at one time, but didn’t know it. These tests give us a better understanding of how many people in a particular area or community have been infected.”
There is not enough information currently available as to whether the existence of antibodies means a patient has any future immunity to COVID-19, or whether they could be re-infected. A positive result from the antibody test should not act as reassurance that patients can stop social distancing, wearing facial coverings or following recommendations from public health.
“This test will hopefully tell us whether or not a patient has developed an immune response to the virus,” says Mark Goelzer, MD, medical director and vice president at Mercyhealth.
The antibody test does not indicate if a person is currently infected with COVID-19. It would not be appropriate to test a patient experiencing signs of COVID-19, including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, headache, muscle pain, or new loss of taste or smell.
Patients with questions about testing should contact their primary care provider who can help them determine an appropriate test and schedule a time for them to be seen and/or tested.
The best way to contain the spread of COVID-19 is to continue practicing social distancing, wear a mask in public when social distancing is not an option and practice proper hand hygiene.
SSM Health is a Catholic, not-for-profit health system serving the comprehensive health needs of communities across the Midwest through a robust and fully integrated health care delivery system. The organization’s nearly 40,000 employees and 11,000 providers are committed to providing exceptional health care services and revealing God’s healing presence to everyone they serve.
Mercyhealth is a multi-regional health system with more than 800 employed physician partners, seven hospitals and 85 primary and specialty care locations serving 55 northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin communities.
Mercyhealth’s over 8,000 employee/partners care for over 2.4 million patient visits each year. As the top vertically integrated health care provider, they continuously work with a passion for making lives better for the people, families and communities they serve.