Community, COVID-19

Spectrum Health Announces Expanded Capability for More Widespread COVID-19 Testing

More resources and revised state guidelines allow for more individuals to be tested

April 27, 2020

Grand Rapids, Mich., April 27, 2020 – Spectrum Health announced that new COVID-19 testing equipment and additional supplies are making it possible for more people in West Michigan to be tested.

Due to the enhanced testing capacity, more people who previously wouldn’t qualify for testing may now be tested for COVID-19. Currently, a medical provider screens all patients to determine whether they should be tested for COVID-19. Testing requires a provider order and an appointment.

Until recently, testing was reserved for people showing severe symptoms, Spectrum Health employees with symptoms, hospital inpatients with suspected COVID-19 and other high-risk patients. Now, Spectrum Health can broaden the criteria of patients eligible for testing.

Spectrum Health now tests patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, as the supply of specimen collection kits and testing equipment allow. Specimens from these patients are tested at the Spectrum Health Regional Lab in Grand Rapids, which typically produces results in less than 24 hours. The health system has the capacity to run 1,000 tests each day. This continues to be a dynamic situation, however, and is assessed daily.

“Our goal has always been to test as many people as possible with suspected symptoms but we’ve been limited by our resources,” said Susan Smith, senior director, laboratory services, Spectrum Health. “With additional testing supplies and advanced equipment, we can begin to meet the demand for testing in our region. This is a big step in our continued fight against this deadly virus.”

With new equipment, Spectrum Health also is able to produce more rapid results for hospitalized patients with severe disease or for those scheduled for inpatient surgical procedures. Smith said a key benefit of quicker results is less time spent in isolation waiting for results for patients who eventually turn out to be negative for the virus that causes COVID-19. Another is the reduction in need for PPE, which continues to be in short supply.

Mobile test units have been deployed in each Spectrum Health regional hospital lab, further reducing delays in results due to specimen transport. These locations include United, Kelsey, Pennock, Zeeland Community, Gerber Memorial, Ludington, Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals. Additional units also have been added at Blodgett Hospital, at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph and in the Spectrum Health Regional Lab in Grand Rapids.

Tests are processed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at each location. For community members requiring testing, appointments are required.  Results are typically received within 24 hours.

“We feel very fortunate that we were able to get these instruments, which weren’t previously in our system, as well as a fairly healthy allocation of testing supplies,” said Adam Caulfield, PhD, technical director of Spectrum Health Microbiology Lab. “We are also grateful to be able to offer the test throughout the entire health system.”

Spectrum Health started COVID-19 testing March 23 and has tested more than 8,000 patients in West Michigan. Prior to that, starting in early March, Spectrum Health sent specimens for testing to a commercial lab, ViraCor, and to the State of Michigan.

Spectrum Health continues to offer free virtual COVID-19 screenings to those who have symptoms. The phone or virtual screenings help prevent the spread of illness by enabling people to seek the information they need from their homes, while making it easy and convenient for them.

People in the state of Michigan who are experiencing symptoms may call the Spectrum Health hotline at 833.559.0659 to be scheduled for a free virtual screening. Anyone with severe or life-threatening symptoms should call 911.


People are at the heart of everything we do, and the inspiration for our long and continuing legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Our award-winning team improves health, inspires hope and saves lives across 13 counties in West Michigan. We bring together 11 hospitals—including Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, with expert care from 350+ pediatric specialists in 70+ specialties and programs—three rehabilitation and nursing centers, 120 outpatient sites and telehealth services. We are proud to work with 4,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, including Spectrum Health Medical Group, one of the largest and most comprehensive multispecialty physician groups in West Michigan.

Tim Hawkins
Media Relations
Office: 616.486.6091
Mobile: 616.443.0361

Sarina Gleason
Media Relations
Phone: 517.256.5618