Our Mission is Community
People and partnerships have always been unifying threads for us, whether through public health services or our innate affinity for cultivating local relationships. After adapting to add COVID testing to our capabilities, partnerships in the long-term care space became an obvious fit. We wanted to focus our energy where we saw the pandemic’s potential for devastating impact — increasing testing access for populations with the greatest need.
No time to lose
We started reaching out — 90-plus phone calls a day on some of those early days. We wanted to connect with as many folks as possible to better understand their needs and start getting test kits out right away.
Of course, like most at the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t know how things would evolve. With all the moving parts — procuring and delivering test kits, new information about COVID daily, talk of shutdowns and mandates — we relied on our core values to inform our direction. Connect with the human and trust in collaboration helped to guide our every move.
We can admit we weren’t experts in the beginning, either in COVID testing or in the world of long-term care. We worked closely with our early partners to figure things out together. How do we get test kits out to people? How many test kits will they need? How do we get kits back to run the samples? How do we share results? People started calling us back asking those same questions: “How does this work? Can you bring us 50 test kits?”
Next thing you know, I’m driving to Salem with kits and paper forms. Driving back from Salem, I get another call. Now I’m driving to Eugene and dropping off kits. Within a week I’m driving all over the state.Todd Marsh, COVID Response Manager — Rize Lab
Yes, we’ll be there. We considered it an obligation. We didn’t know how, but we knew we could figure it out — we had to figure it out to help preserve public health. In just the first week, we’re driving all over the state to deliver test kits. Not long after, we’re connected with long-term care communities in eight different states. It was nonstop — a crash course in long-term care and a masters level education in high-volume testing.
A holistic approach
Navigating new territory can feel like a lot. There’s a definite learning curve and a lot of moving parts. We’re also in our zone. We know how to run these tests. We have an incredible team of strategic partners for support and knowledge sharing. We’re learning new things every day and consistently evolving our operation. This is what Rize Lab is all about.
We want to provide peace of mind in addition to sustainable testing programs for both staff and residents. We want our customers to know that when they partner with us, they can count on our guidance and a comprehensive testing solution — far more than test kit deliveries.
Knowing that we couldn’t have just one person driving across the entire state, we focused on logistics. We partnered with UPS to ensure timely delivery of test kits and return of samples. Soon after, we added four in-house couriers to the team which gave us more control over when and where we pick up and drop off while providing more predictability for our customers.
Another piece of the puzzle — and a necessity for uninterrupted service — is the ability to manage and track test results. We worked directly with the creators of LabDash to help build a robust software platform for tracking and reporting test results. It provides access to relevant information to patients, care providers, and lab staff. We were able to create a direct feedback loop between the LabDash team and individual users, so customer requests went straight to the development team and ultimately helped shape the platform as we know it today.
Critical support system
With what little guidance existed early in the pandemic, our agility and responsiveness solidified us as a go-to resource. We became experts in COVID testing specific to long-term care and stayed on top of the latest testing mandates. As a private lab, we were able to make decisions efficiently and learn as we go, reacting quickly to new regulations and discoveries. Our nimble, test-and-learn approach helped us become one of the first organizations to develop a COVID testing process specific to long-term care.
People started coming to us to learn what we’d done and how. In addition to providing guidance for our customers, we also found ourselves in a position to offer advice to public entities like the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) long-term care division. We worked closely with them to further our expertise in long-term care and create quick-to-implement testing solutions. Collaborating on large-scale testing programs also led to opportunities for us to offer similar support to school districts and businesses.
It’s unfortunate, but at this point it doesn’t look like COVID is going anywhere. We’re glad that mandates have relaxed and outbreaks are less frequent, but we’ll continue to work with long-term care communities to provide regular testing. Some labs will look at shifting their operations back to “normal,” but we’ll stay committed to our long-term care partners. We’re continuing to monitor the pandemic in hopes of staying ahead of their needs.
You see the impact firsthand. You’re in it with them.Todd Marsh, COVID Response Manager — Rize Lab
And we love the fact that these relationships are based around the idea of community. None of us knew how things would pan out, but we found true partners in long-term care. What started as a vision for meeting a public health need turned into a deeply personal connection. In the long-term care communities, you see the impact firsthand. You’re in it with them.
We should also take a moment to thank our partners in the long-term care space. Of the nearly one million COVID samples we’ve processed, 60–70% of them have come through these long-term care communities. We developed our processes for COVID testing with their collaboration. It’s safe to say we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.
Of course, the team at Rize Lab is always looking forward. We’ve evolved our processes to offer large-scale testing for organizations and schools. We’ll continue to build those programs and offer guidance throughout the next school year. We offered high-volume testing for visitors to Eugene for the World Athletic Championships in July 2022. In addition to large-scale programs, we’re also working to develop assays that will test for both flu and COVID at the same time to differentiate between the two and provide better flu surveillance data.
As always, we have a few more ideas in the works as well. Onward and upward!