Meck Co directs nursing home to private lab for COVID-19 testing

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Channel 9 is investigating testing for COVID-19 at nursing homes as the number of outbreaks continues to rise. Nearly 60 percent of the deaths in North Carolina are in those facilities.

On Monday, the state was monitoring 86 outbreaks at 86 nursing homes and residential care facilities. On Thursday, that number is now 96.

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Twenty-nine of those outbreaks are in local counties with 13 in Mecklenburg County.

Mint Hill Senior Living asked the county to test their residents last week.

The county said they don’t have the capacity to test in all the nursing homes, so they referred the facility to MAKO Medical labs, which is a private lab.

“The Mecklenburg County Health Department stated they could not assist with these tests where other health departments had,” said Jaylee Wilson, VP of operations. “(The county) said they were inundated.”

Mint Hill Senior Living started getting results Wednesday, which showed some residents had tested positive but Thursday morning, that changed.

“I got a call about 9:30 this morning,” Wilson said. “MAKO Medical labs retracted their positive results. They said they matched incorrectly and that we are COVID-19 free in our community.”

A family member of a resident wonders if that could’ve been avoided if the county had stepped in and done the testing, to begin with.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said Thursday afternoon they offered nursing homes several testing options to choose from.

“We’re working with them in a way that works best for their particular situation, but we are requiring and making sure that the testing does happen in the way that it needs to,” Harris said.

A county spokesman said Thursday afternoon the county and MEDIC will be at the facility Friday to perform tests.

MAKO Medical labs told Channel 9 Thursday night that even though it isn’t on the FDA’s list of approved COVID-19 labs, it is accredited and does have permission to run an FDA approved test, such as it did in this case.

Statement from Josh Arant, COO, MAKO Medical:

“On May 13, MAKO Medical reported one plate of COVID-19 results that contained false positives.

"The false positives were due to human error within the lab technician plating process. The results were not due to instrumentation error, method failure or result misinterpretation.

"We immediately instituted additional safeguards, including an additional level of result reporting review, to help ensure this never happens again. We understand the gravity of the situation which is why we immediately called the nursing home upon realizing the error.”