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Local private facility offers COVID-19 testing

Despite a warning from Grenada’s Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Francis Martin for citizens to be on guard against COVID-19 testing by the use of certain unauthorised Rapid Test Kits, one medical facility on the island is promoting testing for the coronavirus.

Fit for Life, which is located at Spiceland Mall in the south of the island has been putting out a number of promotional videos offering COVID-19 testing.

THE NEW TODAY has been provided with a video showcasing the company’s Leonard St. Bernard, who announced that COVID-19 testing was among the wide range of Laboratory services that will be offered to the public by the newly launched service company.

“We also provide COVID-19 test screening once you are showing symptoms or if you just want a test maybe for a regulatory purpose because you are running a business – you have a restaurant or so on and you want to ensure that your employees are safe and that you are providing a healthy free, clean environment to customers, we urge you to come in, get yourself tested, get your employees tested,” he said.

According to St. Bernard, the test for coronavirus will cost $100.00 and the person would then be presented with a Certificate “from us showing that you do not have COVID”.

“We actually would come to your facility as well to do Phlebotomy so that we can provide the testing service for you even if you cannot come to us.

“So for people who may be home and not able to come out – the disabled community, seniors, people who may be sick and want to get Phlebotomy service – would want to get their testing done, we can provide that service. We can come directly to you and perform the Phlebotomy.

“We can collect your stool and urine samples, have them analysed and send you the results. So we are providing a different level of service and I think that we have that level of service in Grenada.

This newspaper obtained a letter dated May 12 from CMO Martin to President of the Grenada Medical Association (GMA), Dr. Rachael George-St. Bernard noting that it had been brought “to the attention of the Ministry of Health that Rapid Testing for COVID-19, is being offered as diagnostic investigations by laboratories and other private institutions”.

“Be advised, that infection with Covid-19 has been deemed a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHAIC), and as such requires very stringent public health practices to mitigate and contain the spread of the virus internationally”.

Dr. Martin warned against the use of certain coronavirus kits on the grounds that “many currently available rapid testing kits that are not validated or approved by WHO/PAHO/CARPHA, PH England or by our National Laboratory, run a very high risk of false negative and false positive results”.

Speculation is rife that two medical outfits on the island – each with close ties to the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration have been engaged in a war for control of the private COVID-19 testing on the island.

One of the two has complained that it brought into the country a large quantity of test kits and never received it.

St. Bernard announced that Fit for Life has its own team of doctors within its newly opened Clinic to put at the disposal of anyone in need of medical attention and that the facility “can provide you also with the necessary support at home”.

He spoke of the clinic being equipped to provide a service to persons who for whatever reasons cannot leave their home.

“So when we are coming depending on your needs, we will come not only with the Medical Technologist but also we can come with a doctor as well. You just need to make a call and make the request – we will be there,” he said.

St. Bernard introduced himself as a highly qualified Chemist with many years of experience and having a stint of over 10 years with the state-owned Grenada Bureau of Standards (GBS) as head of its Laboratory services.

He described GBS as the first lab in Grenada “to become internationally accredited under my leadership”.

“I was also the Manager of the Spice Isle Imaging Medical Laboratory. So I have a number of years of experience in this field.

St. Bernard disclosed that the role defined for him at Fit For Life “is to manage and make sure that we produce the highest quality laboratory services that could be provided on island”.

“We have teamed with a number of professionals as well as sub-contracting labs and here at our Phlebotomy unit, we have our expert Medical Technologist who would basically be assisting you with all your testing needs.

According to St. Bernard, one of the key goals and objectives of Fit For Life is to make sure that the facility operates with the highest International ISO standards for medical and testing laboratories.

He said: “My job here is to ensure that all our documents, our paper works, our registration is done properly to ensure that we have the best quality equipment and our environment is right and we have the right human resource.

“I have decided to team with Fit for Life because I think that the (medical) service in Grenada still have a lot of room for improvement. Basically, we want to bring the best quality, the highest quality to the Grenadian people.

The senior employee at Fit For Life announced plans to provide the services at less cost to people outside of St. George especially on the West coast of the island.

He said: “One of the key things that we recognised here is that most of the Medical Labs are located in St. George’s with sub-offices in Grenville. We plan to basically provide the service in the south of the island where the population density is greater so that people living in the south don’t have to travel all the way into town.

“We also plan to open a unit on the western side of the island in Gouyave so that people in Gouyave do not have to travel all the way into town to get a good quality service. Reports will be provided electronically – so once you come in, we take your samples, you pay, you don’t ever have to come back unless you want to see our friendly faces.

“We would provide the results directly to your doctor, where your doctor can log in and get access to all the reports – and once you give us an email address or a number with WhatsApp, we can send you directly your report.