Kolkata-based Suraksha Diagnostics is offering its services to the people and also helping the state to cope with the number of COVID-19 tests at a time when lockdown has made things a little difficult for normal functioning of diagnostics centre. Dr Abhik Banerjee, Lab Director, Chief of Quality & Senior Consultant – Pathology, Suraksha Diagnostic, reveals more about its operations during the lockdown, in interaction with Sanjiv Das
How many COVID tests are being conducted on a daily basis by the diagnostic centre?
Till now, we have conducted an average 500-550 tests per day and a total of around 8000 tests. Recently, we are witnessing an increase in the test volume.
How are you helping the Government of West Bengal to help fight this pandemic?
Out of the 500 samples received, 60-70 per cent are from government hospitals and authorised quarantine centres. We have proposed to the state government to accept 500 samples/day only from public sectors in view of the emerging need for more testing. A special rate with literally no profit margin has been offered to the state government.
Corporate hospitals are already sending samples to us.
Are you conducting spot testing for employees? What is the procedure?
Once monthly FOC testing for the entire COVID- 19 lab team has been approved by Suraksha management. Similar testing protocol (Nasopharyngeal and Oropharyngeal swab, RT PCR) used for patients’ sample testing is being followed for the staff also.
What precautionary measures have been adopted by Suraksha Diagnostics for its employees who are handling the samples as well as COVID positive patients?
Proper sample packaging for transport and proper sample discard or storage protocol recommended by ICMR and MoH&FW, adequate best quality PPEs, rotational duty, adequate number of staff, a dedicated floor and room for COVID-19 testing, BSL III, automated extractor to minimise sample handling by technicians are the measures when checking our diagnostic centre is following.
Precautionary measures have been taken not only for technicians/consultants but also for sample collectors, accessioning personnel and the logistics team.
Since ICMR has fixed the rates for COVID tests, did it affect your profit margin?
This time is not for profit-making but to help the society and nation at large. Our profit lies in customer satisfaction and assisting the state and central government to efficiently fight this pandemic. We are running with bare minimum profit for COVID-19 test considering the cost of the kit, VTM, other consumables, equipment, manpower, PPEs, infrastructure and other overhead charges.
On average how many non-COVID tests were conducted at your centre?
Currently approx. 1000-1500 samples/day.
How did you manage to reach out to patients during the lockdown period?
Phone calls, emails, social networks etc are helping us to reach out to patients. All our centres have remained open during this entire lockdown period to cater to urgent samples in spite of bearing huge overhead costs.
Post lockdown what are your business plans?
Suraksha has been with the people for 24*7 even during this crisis period and we have been very successful to uninterruptedly serve the hospitals, patients, doctors in spite of this lockdown and pandemic. Hence, we are sure our customers also will support us as usual post lockdown.
Due to the current lockdown situation, walk-in patients are far less in numbers. Hence appropriate engagement activities with doctors and patients will be arranged immediately once the lockdown is withdrawn.