the initial sense of relief has been overtaken by frustration as nursing homes have discovered that they must pay for test kits on their own, and that the machines are markedly less accurate than lab-based diagnostics.
Because the devices come with a modest starter-set of test supplies that only last a few weeks, facilities, many of them buffeted by financial losses from the pandemic, must pay roughly $32 for each additional test. In communities with high rates of infection, a typical nursing home can churn through hundreds of tests a week.
The machine his company received, made by the medical device manufacturer BD, came with 300 tests but the new rules require Westminster-Canterbury to conduct weekly tests on its 280 nursing employees and residents. BD has said it would be weeks before they could send out additional testing supplies.
The shortages have forced Mr. Unkle to rely on an outside lab that charges $100 a test, an expense that he estimates will add $875,000 to the $1 million in pandemic-related losses that the nonprofit provider expects this year. Rather than the 15-minute turnaround, the lab results take up to four days to arrive, complicating efforts at infection control.