Irving-Based Health System Offers COVID-19 Antibody Tests to Employees

CHRISTUS Health System says it plans to test its 1,800 Dallas-Fort Worth-based corporate employees

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An Irving-based health company will be one of the first in North Texas to roll out COVID-19 antibody testing for all of its employees.

CHRISTUS Health System said the antibody testing could be part of the way forward for the "new normal," and part of the solution to opening the economy in North Texas again.

The company said it planned to test its 1,800 Dallas-Fort Worth-based corporate employees, in addition to its network of physicians, nurses and patients at its hospitals and clinics around the United States.

The antibody tests are different from the diagnostic tests, the nasal swabs, that are used to determine whether a person is sick with the virus.

These are the blood tests that can tell within 15 minutes if a person ever had the virus and has the antibodies in their system that may protect them from getting sick again.

On the Today Show Monday, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said these antibody tests may be a game changer.

CHRISTUS Health is made up of more than 600 centers, including long-term care facilities, community hospitals, walk-in clinics and health ministries in South Texas, Louisiana and Latin America.

For the last several weeks, the team has quickly assessed the test's reliability and then deployed the kits to CHRISTUS hospitals and ambulatory sites across the United States.

Leaders said it validated the new antibody test by using it on 400 patients, many of whom had already tested positive for COVID-19. They say it was 99% accurate.

"If this coronavirus is like the other coronavirus, it's likely you'll only be able to be infected once and once you develop an immune response, it's very unlikely you'll get the infection or spread it a second time, so that's something that we think having antibody results will build confidence in, not just health care providers, but for the community at large," said CHRISTUS Health's Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Sam Bagchi.

According to the DFW Hospital Council, no other health system in North Texas is offering the antibodies tests to its employees.

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