Toronto (Sept. 15, 2020) - With the largest COVID-19 testing capacity in Ontario, the shared Sinai Health – University Health Network (UHN) Microbiology Department has now completed more than half a million tests for residents across the province.

"We're really proud to go beyond serving just our hospitals to supporting residents throughout Ontario as a whole," says Dr. Tony Mazzulli, Microbiologist-in-Chief, Sinai Health – UHN.

"Reaching a half million milestone shows we have been successful in meeting a critical testing need and contributing to the COVID response effort for the entire province."

Under the direction of Mazzulli and Christine Bruce, Laboratory Administrative Director, the lab has scaled-up COVID-19 testing by more than 20 times its March volumes. In that time, it has completed more COVID-19 tests than any other single laboratory in the province.

"We have a rock-solid foundation for testing and incredibly talented staff, which have allowed us to respond to testing needs very quickly," Christine says. "The team has not taken their foot off the gas since day one."

With the province pushing for increased testing, the Sinai Health – UHN Microbiology Department is building capacity to be able to perform 17,000 tests per day by the beginning of October. Christine says, "Ontario put out a call to action, and this is our way of answering the call."

"Ensuring the province has sufficient testing capacity is critical to our public health response to COVID-19. Rapid identification of new cases allows for early contact tracing and prevention of further spread of the virus, says Dr. Jennie Johnstone, Chair of Ontario's Testing Strategy Expert Panel and Physician Lead of Infection Prevention and Control at Sinai Health.

Dr. Kathryn Tinckam, Interim Medical Director for UHN's Laboratory Medicine Program adds, "Whether it is turn-around-time, testing capacity or any challenge they have faced, this team has been relentless in finding the fastest, most accurate solutions for Ontarians."

Key stats

  • The lab performs testing for 24 hospitals and 15 assessment centres across the province
  • The average test is completed in eight to 12 hours from the time the lab receives the sample, and patients consistently receive their results in 24 hours
  • Of 500,000 completed tests, approximately 3.5 per cent have been positive with COVID-19
  • Since the start of the pandemic, the lab has hired more than 44 staff and installed 11 new instruments to ensure 24/7 operations
  • Photos and b-roll are available upon request

About Sinai Health

Sinai Health is comprised of Mount Sinai Hospital, Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and it's system partner Circle of Care. It delivers excellent care in hospital, community and home, focusing on the comprehensive needs of people. Sinai Health discovers and translates scientific breakthroughs, pushes boundaries for health solutions and educates future clinical and scientific leaders. Clinical areas of specialization include rehabilitation and complex continuing care, surgery and oncology, urgent and critical care, and women's and infants' health. Its Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute ranks among the top ten biomedical research institutes in the world. Sinai Health is a full affiliate of the University of Toronto.

About University Health Network

University Health Network includes Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and The Michener Institute of Education at UHN. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media Contact

Phone: 416 340 4636

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