COVID-19 testing at Adventure Island suspended after lab issues

AdventHealth terminated its contract with the lab because it was “unable to fulfill its obligation.”
Healthcare workers talk with a patient before collecting a COVID-19 sample April 22 in the parking lot of Adventure Island. The drive-thru was suspended after issues with a laboratory partner caused a backlog in results.
Healthcare workers talk with a patient before collecting a COVID-19 sample April 22 in the parking lot of Adventure Island. The drive-thru was suspended after issues with a laboratory partner caused a backlog in results. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published May 19, 2020|Updated May 19, 2020

TAMPA — AdventHealth suspended its drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Adventure Island after an issue with a laboratory caused a backlog in results, a spokesperson said.

The drive-thru site, one of the only ones in the area to use a saliva test instead of an uncomfortable nasal swab, opened April 22 with the goal of testing 2,000 people a day for a month. Officials told patients they’d get results in two to three days.

But a written announcement Saturday from the AdventHealth West Florida Division said the healthcare provider terminated its contract with the lab in charge of processing results because it was “unable to fulfill its obligation.”

The lab issues affected more than 8,000 people throughout the West Florida division, including people tested at Adventure Island in the last several weeks.

AdventHealth spokeswoman Richelle Hoenes said more than 6,000 tests were conducted between Adventure Island and another site at AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel. Testing was suspended at both sites May 11, five days before Saturday’s announcement that the healthcare provider was terminating its contract with the lab in charge of providing results.

“This situation has created unacceptable delays, and we do not have confidence in the reliability of the tests,” the statement said. “We are working diligently to notify and appropriately accommodate those who are impacted.”

About 33,000 people were impacted statewide by the lab issues, Hoenes said.

In an email exchange with the Tampa Bay Times, Hoenes did not respond to a question about the name of the lab. But the Orlando lab MicroGen DX linked to a news article on its website that spells out its arrangement with AdventHealth to conduct saliva tests.

People whose tests were affected will receive a letter from AdventHealth and might also get a phone call, the release said.

These individuals fall into two categories, as described by AdventHealth:

  1. Those whose samples were processed, and whose results provided by the lab are not deemed reliable.
  2. Those whose samples are at the lab in question and are part of the backlog. These samples will not be tested so no result will be available.

People who had unreliable positive results will require retesting, AdventHealth said. If they are symptomatic, they are encouraged to seek medical care. Those who are asymptomatic and want to be retested will be offered the option, pending availability.

The tests that were not processed but are part of the backlog will be destroyed, in accordance with the law. Those patients may require retesting if they are symptomatic, AdventHealth said.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should seek care immediately, the healthcare provider said.

In a news release Monday, AdventHealth said, “Our complete focus is on notifying and accommodating every consumer who has been impacted by this situation. Our teams are working around the clock to contact these individuals and assess how we can best help them, which may include an appointment with a provider and a retest in some circumstances.“

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Kelly Parsons, 29, said she was tested at Adventure Islands two weeks ago and is still waiting for her results. Parsons, a caretaker and also a correspondent for the Times, said she needed a negative test to safely return to work.

Despite what AdventHealth has promised in its statements the last couple days, Parsons said she hasn't heard anything from the healthcare provider.

“Still waiting on results that now won’t be coming,” Parsons said in a Twitter post on Tuesday, tagging AdventHealth.

The company responded on Twitter an hour and a half later: “We’ve been made aware that the third-party lab we contracted with is unable to process COVID-19 tests, and won’t be providing your results. We’re deeply sorry and share your frustrations.”

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