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A key component

Elanco donates testing supplies to Community Health Center

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Elanco Animal Health donated 1,000 vials of viral transport media to Community Health Center of Fort Dodge on Tuesday morning. The viral transport media will be used to preserve COVID-19 swab tests to be shipped to a testing facility.

Community Health Center of Fort Dodge received a special and much-needed gift from Elanco Animal Health on Tuesday morning.

Jason Hansen and Lee Stimpson, Elanco staff members, delivered just over 1,000 vials filled with a solution called viral transport medium to the Community Health Center, 126 N. 10th St.

Viral transport media, or VTM, is a preservative solution that keeps a virus active until it can be tested. When a health care worker conducts a swab test for the COVID-19 coronavirus, the swab is sealed in a vial of the VTM so it can be shipped to the state hygienic lab or other testing facilities.

“This is the key component that we’re missing,” said Renae Kruckenberg, chief executive officer of Community Health Center. “We get a very limited supply from the state hygienic lab, so we have to be even more selective with testing than we normally would be.”

So far, the Community Health Center has done about 30 COVID-19 tests. The additional VTM vials will increase the center’s capacity for collecting testing samples, but that doesn’t mean that just anyone will be tested. Community Health Center will continue to follow guidelines from the state hygienic lab and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on who should be tested.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Jason Hansen, of Elanco Animal Health, shows Renae Kruckenberg, CEO of Community Health Center, a rack of vials filled with viral transport media, which will be used to preserve and ship COVID-19 swab tests to the testing facilties.

“We want to test the ones that need to be tested, and right now we’re really looking at the nursing home staff because they’re in there with that vulnerable population,” said Dr. Elizabeth Stoebe, Community Health Center medical director. “There are a lot of people who want to be tested that don’t meet the guidelines.”

The VTM vials will be stored at 4 degrees Celsius in several refrigerators that are normally used to store vaccines during influenza season.

Elanco’s donation is very important to Kruckenberg and the Community Health Center staff.

“It truly means the world to me,” she said. “When I reached out to them, it was one of those things where my fingers were crossed, I’d only told a couple people here that I was reaching out to them to see if they could do it, because I didn’t know.”

Elanco is the fourth-largest animal health company in the world and its Fort Dodge labs, located at 800 Fifth St. N.W, research and manufacture pharmaceutical vaccines for several animal industries.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Staff at Community Health Center of Fort Dodge hold vials of viral transport media donated by Elanco Animal Health on Tuesday morning. The vials will be used to ship COVID-19 swab tests to testing facilities.

When Kruckenberg reached out to Elanco last week to see if they could manufacture and supply the VTM vials, she said she was ecstatic when she found out that the lab was more than willing to help.

Hansen said the Elanco labs had nearly all the ingredients for the VTM solution on hand already, and only had to order in an inexpensive saline solution.

“During this unprecedented time, Elanco has been looking for ways to utilize our expertise to help,” said Betsy Bowman, from manufacturing and quality organization communications for Elanco. “When the opportunity to help provide viral transport media for COVID-19 testing presented itself, we knew that our staff and site in Fort Dodge was uniquely positioned to help the community health services in this way. We are all in this together and this is one small way that we can help the community in which we live and work.”

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