Hill Laboratories in Hamilton has partnered with the Waikato District Health Board to provide additional testing capacity from this week for SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes Covid-19).
Hill Laboratories is the only non-DHB facility in the Waikato providing the testing service, and one of only three non-DHB laboratories across New Zealand approved to test for Covid-19.
The company, New Zealand's largest privately owned analytical testing laboratory, said it recognised the importance of rapid and extensive testing for the coronavirus early on, so reached out to the Waikato DHB.
"Waikato DHB engaged with us early on during alert level 4 lockdown, assessed our capability and laboratory facilities and decided to partner with us," says Dr Jonno Hill, chief executive of Hill Laboratories.
"There was a strong alignment of values between Hill Laboratories and the Waikato DHB around the importance of high-quality testing, and the partnership means that the testing capacity in the Waikato will be increased considerably."
The company worked closely with International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) to implement the move.
"Our team has put in hard work and long hours to make sure this service was available in a record time of 18 working days. We look forward to the first samples arriving at our lab for testing," says Dr Hill.
Due to the nature of the testing, Hill Laboratories has put in place strict safety and confidentiality protocols at its laboratory on Duke St in Frankton.
"The testing will be carried out in a secure laboratory environment by a few select personnel, and will be kept separate from all the other testing we conduct for other clients," says Dr Hill.
Dr Eilidh Mowat, who leads the Hill Laboratories molecular biology team in Hamilton, will work closely with Dr Chris Mansell, Clinical Microbiologist at the DHB, to ensure all testing is completed to a suitably high standard.
Dr Hill said that "as a 100 per cent New Zealand-owned business, it feels good to be playing an active role in our country's response to the Covid-19 pandemic".
Hill Laboratories was founded in 1984 by Dr Roger and Anne Hill.
The company uses the latest technologies to supply a broad range of laboratory tests to domestic and international markets in three testing areas; agriculture, environmental and food.
It has five laboratories nationally in Hamilton, Auckland, Blenheim, Christchurch and Wellington.