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    Kimberly Zunker, MBA, MLS (ASCP)

    COVID Catch-Up: Reflecting on COVID-19 Milestones over the First 6 Months of the Pandemic

    Kimberly Zunker is a lab tech with a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science, an ASCP medical laboratory scientist certification, and an MBA. She has served and worked in both civilian and military hospital and clinic laboratories, serving in the Air Force as a commissioned officer and laboratory officer in the Biomedical Science Corps where she led two Air Force laboratories.

    Kimberly chose a laboratory career because it’s always changing. This has definitely proven to be true as the laboratory remains in the spotlight of the first pandemic in 100 years. For the last several months, Kimberly has buried herself in current research, attending weekly FDA and CDC calls, maintaining a technical test comparison of all FDA Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs), and listening to labs across the nation share their experiences. Doing so has made her a sought-after expert in the field by hospitals and health systems nationally.

    Now six months into the COVID-19 crisis, HPI caught up with Kimberly to reflect on where we are and how we got here relative to testing and supplies. Here she walks us through a timeline of events.

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    In reflection of the timeline above and how it will impact tomorrow and the months ahead, Kimberly points out that we’ve never stopped testing which in turn has not allowed us to find relief, take a deep breath and recover. The seasonality effect that we see with flu and other respiratory viruses never occurred, so labs are still experiencing all of the same supply shortages even as we’ve increased manufacturing as well as the number of manufacturers. Many labs have brought on multiple instrument platforms from multiple vendors simply to alleviate their supply allocation issues. Even with all of that, we’re still seeing labs that are coming up short, especially labs in hotspots. Many labs are sending out up to 50% of their tests even though they have three or four COVID testing platforms in house because there are not enough reagents to perform the tests that are coming in. These labs are subsequently no longer testing asymptomatic patients. Adding to these concerns, Lab Corp and Quest have both announced increased turnaround times due to demand overwhelming their test capacity. Net-net, it’s a vicious cycle in which we are still spinning. Kimberly remains focused on finding solutions to these problems, and ultimately seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay tuned for the sunshine . . .
    Kimberly Zunker, MBA, MLS (ASCP)

    Kimberly Zunker, MBA, MLS (ASCP)

    Consulting Manager