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Dogwood Health Trust Partners with Sanesco International Inc. to Launch CommunityLab, A COVID-19 Testing Laboratory Dedicated to Western North Carolina

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CommunityLab will allocate 10% of COVID-19 testing to serve uninsured in WNC

Asheville, N.C. – Dogwood Health Trust is partnering with Sanesco International Inc. to launch a new diagnostic testing laboratory, CommunityLab, dedicated to Western North Carolina (WNC) community testing. CommunityLab, a high-end molecular and diagnostic testing laboratory devoted to improving health, wellness, and quality of life for all people and communities in WNC, will allocate most of its resources to support the demand for COVID-19 testing in the region, including 10 percent of testing to serve the uninsured, as well as rural, underserved and minority populations.

Developing a meaningful response to COVID-19 and its impacts to the regional economy has been front and center for Dogwood. Improving access to jobs and supporting economic development in the region is one of Dogwood’s four key strategic priority areas. The investment in Sanesco helps accomplish both purposes, supporting a laboratory expansion that is dedicated to serving WNC and that will result in the creation of approximately 25 new jobs within the next two years. Testing will be open to anyone regardless of symptoms. All COVID-19 tests run at CommunityLab are approved under Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. 

“When we saw the difficulty in obtaining access to fast, reliable testing in the early days of COVID-19, we knew we needed a home-grown solution that was dedicated to the health and well-being of people here in Western North Carolina,” said George Renfro, a Dogwood board member who chairs its Impact Investing Committee. “Sanesco was already exploring innovative ways to meet this need, so the timing of this investment was perfect. The fact that they will prioritize our region and provide free testing to uninsured individuals speaks volumes about their commitment to others.”

CommunityLab plans to offer a variety of testing options. To detect active viral infection for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, CommunityLab’s testing includes rapid antigen testing via nasal swab collection and RT-PCR testing with options for either nasopharyngeal (NP) swab or saliva specimen collection. The Yale School of Public Health recently granted authorization for CommunityLab to perform their SalivaDirect™ assay, a saliva-based diagnostic SARS-CoV-2 test that is simpler, less expensive, and less invasive than traditional NP swabbing. For recent or prior infection, CommunityLab offers antibody testing which is a serology test used to determine if a person might have developed an immune response against a pathogen or not.

“Lab testing is key to reducing the spread of COVID, and our mission to improve patient quality of life is more important now than ever as stress, mental health, and economic and financial concerns are at an all-time high amidst this global pandemic,” said Hector Romero, Chairman and CEO of Sanesco. “Western North Carolina is our home. We live here. We work here. Our kids went to school here. I am passionate about helping our community get through this pandemic. Providing reliable, fast, and accurate COVID-19 testing at our lab will not only help keep our friends, families, and neighbors safer, but it can provide more accessible testing options for the underserved and vulnerable populations who have been disproportionately affected.” 

CommunityLab will manage mobile testing site events with same day results available to the public. Additionally, CommunityLab aims to partner with local businesses, hospitals, urgent cares, long-term care facilities, healthcare providers, faith-based organizations, research institutions, schools, and universities and can customize services such as medical courier pick-up or Spanish translators to meet each organization’s unique needs. To learn more or set up a testing account with CommunityLab, please visit www.communitylabwnc.com, email [email protected]or call (828) 585-6443.

Sanesco International Inc. is a global leader providing specialty, neuroendocrine laboratory testing for healthcare providers, hospital networks, reference laboratories, and research partners for over a decade. Sanesco’s high-complexity, CLIA-certified clinical laboratory has tested hundreds of thousands of patients, amassing one of the largest repositories of human stress response data. Most importantly, Sanesco is driven by its mission to improve quality of life.

About Dogwood Health Trust

Dogwood Health Trust is a North Carolina nonprofit corporation with the sole purpose of
dramatically improving the health and well-being of all people and communities of Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust was created from the net proceeds of the sale of Mission Hospital and focuses on innovative ways to address the many factors that contribute to overall health and wellness. To learn more, please visit www.dht.org.

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