CAMBRIDGE -- Southeastern Med and the Auxiliary announces they're improving patient care with the investment in a Cepheid GeneXpert System to reduce turn-around-times for vital lab tests from days to hours, enabling doctors to make quicker, more informed treatment decisions.

The GeneXpert System tests for the presence of bacteria, including that of infectious life-threatening diseases such as C. diff (Clostridia difficile), MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus), Influenza and H1N1, in about an hour of receiving the specimen. "In a hospital, a newly admitted patient with these infections, but no symptoms, may be the most common source of transmission and infection," said Debra Banna, director of Laboratory Services at Southeastern Med. "These infections can cause serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. This machine is a huge step forward for patients in this hospital, as well as infection control."

The machine takes a DNA sample and sets off a chain reaction to quickly produce millions of copies of it. As the quantity increases, color indicators identify the bacteria present in the sample. Within an hour, lab results can be provided to the physician for an accurate diagnosis and immediate course of treatment.

This technology not only saves lives, it helps reduce overall healthcare costs.

"Before the GeneXpert, testing involved a typical turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours which forced clinical care to proceed under the assumption the patient was infectious," Banna said. "This machine reduces healthcare costs by eliminating the step of prescribing antibiotics that might not work or isolating a patient when it isn't necessary, which is extremely costly."

The Southeastern Med Auxiliary is dedicated to enhancing patient care through community fundraisers. This year the Auxiliary pledged $84,000 toward the cost of the Cepheid GeneXpert System. Recently, the Auxiliary presented a check in the amount of $25,000 toward the balance due on the machine.