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CONTACT:  LISA GARRETT, lgarrett@tctc.edu    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          3/26/2020

                                                                                    (By Lisa Garrett)

GREENVILLE --- A month ago, Jamie Short, an ASCP-certified Medical Laboratory Technician (Medical Laboratory Technology, Class of 2010), spent her days at Premier Medical Laboratory Services in Greenville overseeing the daily flow of the Genetic and Molecular Diagnostics Lab where she supervises a staff of seven technicians.  Her daily work could include in-depth troubleshooting of issues with equipment and processes, handling training and orientation for new hires, updating policies and procedures, and overseeing regulatory compliance standards.

This week, amid the COVID-19 crisis, her job changed dramatically.  She’s still serving as General Supervisor for Genetic and Molecular Diagnostics for Premier Medical, but her group is now part of a team performing tests for COVID-19, making Premier Medical the first private commercial testing facility in South Carolina to do so.  It's part of an effort to help alleviate the backlog from testing facilities in South Carolina and across the country.

 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the company the green light on Tuesday (March 24) to begin testing for COVID-19 to accelerate testing across the state.

"Patients will go to their doctors or to one of the drive-thru clinics here in the state or nationally and have the test ordered and collected, then it’d be sent to Premier, where we’ll process that test and send the result back to the physician," said Michael Conroy, vice president of compliance for Premier Medical.

 Jamie spent the last three weeks working to make sure testing would be approved by the FDA.

Her company partnered with MUSC who is sending patient samples from Charleston to Premier Medical where Jamie and her team of MLTs and Medical Technologists analyze the COVID-19 tests.  From Tuesday, March 24 – Thursday, March 26, they conducted 3,000 tests, 10 percent of which were positive.

Before the FDA approval, she oversaw the validation process and received training with technicians. “We have all been trained properly and are following the FDA and CDC guidelines for the special extraction and qPCR processes of testing patient samples -  which can take 4 – 5 hours between their arrival and the reporting of results,” she said.  Technicians can perform 93 samples at a time.  Results are sent electronically to MUSC.

“We’ve been in overdrive,” said Jamie.  “Our MLTs and MTs – we are the front lines and we are giving it all we have – sometimes working 80-hour work weeks,” she said.  “It’s our top priority,” she added.

“We aren’t just performing tests – we also are creating critically important statistics for doctors for their research,” she added. 

“I never thought I would be doing this --    helping to provide testing for a national crisis.  I thought I’d continue to be hidden away in a lab doing general chemistry and hematology testing.” 

She is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from retirees and interns, who want to volunteer their time as part-time employees.  “We’ve had a phenomenal response.  They all want to help with getting information to the doctors.”  Individuals who want to help should contact (864) 679-2932.

** Jamie Short has worked in the health care industry as an ASCP- certified MLT since graduating from Tri-County Technical College in 2010.  She has worked at Premier Medical Laboratory Services in Greenville for four years.  She previously worked six years as a generalist at Bon Secours where she received experience in molecular testing, via the Microbiology Department, as well as when she worked at a private lab.

 She didn’t always know she wanted to be an MLT.  After graduating from West-Oak High School, she was unsure of a career choice so she enrolled at Tri-County “because it’s a good place to start.  It has options for everyone.  I could choose the university transfer route or the two- year degree.  Tri-County is affordable and delivers a quality education.”   After talking with former MLT Program Director Polly Kay, Jamie says she “fell in love with medical lab technology.  It really appealed to me because of­­­ the emphasis on biological sciences.  I’ve always wanted to have a career where I help others and I love science.” 

She performed her clinical rotation at Bon Secours, who hired her before she graduated.  “Any time we are looking to hire at Premier, I think of Tri-County students because they stand out, are prepared, and can do the bench work,” she said.