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Yale Pathology Labs Mobile Lab Provides Over 400 Free Tests to Community

April 10, 2024

The mobile Laboratory-in-a-Van that enables Yale Pathology Labs (YPL) to bring its testing services into neighborhoods in New Haven and surrounding towns has surpassed its goal of offering at least 400 free saliva-based PCR COVID tests to the community.

To date, the Lab-in-a-Van has been deployed more than 60 times to community pop-up sites and events, providing the 400-plus free tests. With plans to continue deploying the van to test vulnerable populations through April 30, we expect to far exceed our original goal of 400 tests.

Among the van’s regular weekly stops is the WHEAT Food Pantry in West Haven, where, earlier this week, three Clinical Technologists from YPL – William Platt, Alice Walker, and Rupa Vyas – were on hand to provide SalivaDirect™ COVID tests to any community member who wanted one.

The van, which is plugged into either an outdoor electrical outlet or a generator, returns PCR tests results in as little as two hours, bringing sophisticated laboratory services directly to underserved neighborhoods. Same-day onsite delivery of test results is an added benefit for communities and individuals without access to Wi-Fi or the ability to receive private health information electronically.

“The van has been everything we expected it to be. It allows us to bring our services, as well as healthcare information, directly to communities where they are needed,” said Angelique Levi, MD, Associate Professor, Vice Chair and Director of Pathology Reference Services, and CLIA Laboratory Medical Director in the Department of Pathology.

The van, funded through a federal grant, became possible, in part, because of a collaboration between YPL and Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) that resulted in YSPH creating the saliva-based test. The YPL Molecular Laboratory provided the clinical validation required to prepare the testing method for emergency use authorization by the Food & Drug Administration.

The van has been deployed at community fairs, community health events and other events and gatherings. It’s staffed by a trained lab technician and a community health navigator who connect individuals who test positive for COVID-19 with appropriate community resources for care and also provide health information to people who stop by.

Submitted by Terence P. Corcoran on April 10, 2024